Minister A. Bilotaitė met the European Commissioner to discuss Lithuania's efforts to stop irregular migration


2023 02 17


Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson discussed the migration situation at the EU's eastern border and Lithuania's response to the hybrid attack by the Belarusian regime, the security situation in Europe and assistance to Ukraine.

According to Minister Bilotaitė, the situation on the border with Belarus is currently quite stable, with no significant incidents recorded. However, ensuring stability requires continued efforts.

The management of the irregular migration crisis at the border has involved the mobilisation of human resources, the successful completion of a physical barrier during the year, the introduction of border surveillance systems with EC financial assistance, and the return of one in four irregular migrants to their countries of origin with the support of the EU agency Frontex. National legislation is being amended and changes to EU law have been initiated to counter the hybrid attack by Lukashenko regime. 

"We have rejected Lukashenko regime's attempts to destabilise the EU by using irregular migrants. The result is that a new migration route across the EU's eastern border has not opened. This has taken a lot of effort and complex measures on our part. Of course, this would not have been possible without the Commission's political, diplomatic, financial and sometimes just moral support," Minister Bilotaitė thanked Commissioner Johansson.

The additional EU financial support to Lithuania amounts to €42.1 million for the reception of migrants and €70 million for border protection. Another application submitted by the Ministry of the Interior for additional EU funding is currently being assessed by the European Commission.

The EC Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, noted that Lithuania's border surveillance systems on the border with Belarus are now among the most modern in the EU.

Minister Bilotaitė stressed that the situation on the border with Belarus, although stable, remains tense. Belarusian officials continue to push irregular migrants into Lithuania, with over 19,000 refused entry since August 2021, and around 500 migrants allowed due to humanitarian reasons. Belarusian officials continue to break down the physical barrier, with some 500 such cases recorded. The possibility of a new migrant smuggling route through the Kaliningrad region is not excluded.

Minister Bilotaitė said that efforts to counter attacks of all kinds will continue as long as necessary. Additional security measures are also planned. Work is planned to start on the installation of a border patrol path and a control strip along the entire border with Belarus. This will help to ensure a more rapid response by officials to border violations and breaches of the physical barrier.

According to the Minister of the Interior, in the wake of the Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as living in close proximity to the unpredictable Lukashenko regime and the unsafe Astravas nuclear power plant, preparedness for threats and crisis situations has become more important than ever before. Lithuania has revitalised the neglected area of civil protection over the years, but the Minister said that civil protection must also be strengthened at EU level.

Minister Bilotaitė also discussed support to Ukraine with European Commissioner Johansson. Efforts to help Ukraine, which is being devastated by Russia's war of aggression, must not only be continued but also strengthened. The Minister stressed that Lithuania strongly supports the search for an EU-level solution to the confiscation of assets of Russia and its oligarchs, with a view to using the funds to rebuild Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, 74,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Lithuania, including 25,000 minors.