Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis tells his Iraqi counterpart that Minsk has used Iraqis for evil purposes
On 21 June, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis discussed the issue of illegal migration to Lithuania with his EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. In the bilateral meeting, Landsbergis also discussed the situation along the Lithuanian state border with the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein.
“The Belarusian regime has turned migration into a weapon and uses it as a means of pressure against us. We have information that the regime organises migrants’ trips to Minsk, while Belarusian border guard officers help groups of migrants cross the Lithuanian state border in violation of international agreements. The situation is currently under control, but we can expect an increase in traffic after an announcement of these sanctions. A time may come, when Lithuania will have to ask the EU institutions and other member states for help," the Foreign Minister informed his counterparts about the situation.
According to Landsbergis, Lithuania has not had such flows of irregular migrants and may need other member states' experience and support, especially with regard to the issues of state border protection and resettlement. Landsbergis also thanked Finland, Greece, and other Baltic states for their support and assistance in this regard.
In the bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, Landsbergis drew attention to a surge of Iraqi citizens crossing the Lithuanian-Belarusian border illegally and called for closer cooperation on migration, particularly readmission.
"We cannot allow the regime to use Iraqi citizens for its evil purposes. I heard from my colleague today that Iraq was open to dialogue. In the near future, we hope to continue our conversation and find a solution together, including to the problems of issuing travel documents for migrants and ensuring their safe return to the country of origin. Iraq has also promised to consider a possibility to help Lithuania identify immigrants crossing the border with Belarus," said Lithuania's Foreign Minister.
Landsbergis also invited the Iraqi Consul residing in Warsaw to come to Lithuania and called for strengthened cooperation between Lithuanian and Iraqi law enforcement officers.
According to Landsbergis, it is vital to maintain political stability in Iraq. The international community hopes that the implementation of critical reforms in the country will be intensified after the elections. The Foreign Minister voiced his support for the EU Election Observation Mission and highlighted the need to ensure its security. Lithuania's Foreign Minister also assured that Lithuania would continue contributing to stability in this country by participating in the NATO Mission Iraq.