Lithuania calls on EU to sanction airlines flying to Minsk


In light of a continuing influx of illegal migrants from Belarus, Lithuania has called on the European Union to close its air space to airlines flying to Minsk.

Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Tuesday he had put forward the idea to his EU counterparts during a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

Other EU countries also struggling with illegal immigration including Germany had welcomed the suggestion, he said, according to comments carried by the BNS news agency.

Vilnius accuses long-term Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of pushing refugees towards the countries’ shared border, which is also an EU external border.

Lithuania says people from war-torn countries are flown to Minsk and then brought to Belarus’ border with EU member states Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

In response to EU sanctions imposed on Minsk for human rights violations, Lukashenko said in May that Belarus would no longer prevent people trying to reach the bloc.

Illegal crossings of the EU’s external border in the region have since been on the rise.

The Belarusian regime’s “hybrid attack” had shown the necessity for enforcing the EU’s external borders, Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda said after meeting his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Vilnius.

He called for the creation of a new legal framework for EU migration policy. Duda meanwhile asked the EU to show solidarity and called for sanctions on Belarus.

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