Friday, September 17, 2021

EU commissioner to hold Belarus border crisis talks in Lithuania

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Rayyan Alhassan is a graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sikkim Manipal University, Ghana. He is the acting Managing Editor at the Daily Nigerian newspaper, a position he has held for the past 3 years. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/RayyanAlhassan, or @Rayyan88 on Twitter.
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The European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson planned to hold a meeting in Lithuania on Monday to discuss introducing additional measures to combat the growing number of illegal border crossings at the bloc’s borders.

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Johansson will meet Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte in Vilnius in the morning, according to the European Commission.

She is due to visit the Padvarionys border crossing point later, together with Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite.

Lithuanian authorities had reported a sharp increase in irregular arrivals in its territory from neighboring Belarus over recent months.

Within one day, almost 200 people crossed the border earlier this week, bringing the total number of apprehended migrants this year to 3,500 compared to 81 in the whole of last year.

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Most of them had applied for asylum.

The country, which shares a nearly 680-kilometre border with Belarus, accused Minsk of deliberately allowing migrants across its borders.

Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has threatened the EU with allowing people from war zones such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to pass through, in response to sanctions imposed on his country.

In her talks with Lithuanian lawmakers, Johansson planned to define more closely the nature of additional EU support.

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Additional border guards from the EU border agency Frontex had already been sent to the country in recent weeks and more set to follow.

A further possibility would be to introduce additional EU sanctions on Belarus.

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Tensions between the EU and Belarus were running high due to the ongoing repression of civil society and peaceful protests that were unleashed a year ago after disputed elections.

Internationally, Lithuania was one of the biggest supporters of the Belarusian democracy movement. (dpa/NAN)

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