Polish, Lithuanian PMs discuss increased security, migration – CBS17.com
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Polish and Lithuanian Prime Ministers said on Friday that strengthening security at their borders with Belarus was the best way to ease the pressure from the influx of migrants there, as they expect what they called a “hybrid attack” from Belarus to continue.
Polish Mateusz Morawiecki and Lithuanian Ingrida Simonyte also said that enhanced bilateral cooperation, including in business and infrastructure, would help counter hostile pressures on the European Union’s eastern border.
Morawiecki and Simonyte, along with members of their government, discussed ways to prevent illegal migration and strengthen border security.
“We are preparing for a scenario of long-term conflict around our borders,” Morawiecki said after the talks. He added that the two countries would implement “stronger physical protection against illegal migration, which the regime (of Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko has turned into a weapon”.
The two countries have introduced local states of emergency blocking access to their borders with Belarus. They are also building razor wire fences there and have increased patrols and border guard vehicles.
Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have seen a sharp increase in crossings of Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians and Africans through Belarus in recent months. All three EU countries accuse Belarus of pushing migrants across their borders.
The problem arose after Western countries imposed sanctions on Belarus for its crackdown on opposition members after Lukashenko won a sixth term last year in elections the West and opposition say have been rigged.
German magazine Der Spiegel said on Friday that Germany was stepping up patrols of its 460-kilometer (280-mile) border with Poland due to increased illegal crossings and attempted smuggling into Germany, mostly from migrants. Iraq who entered the EU from Belarus.
Simonyte said on Friday that Lithuania is seeking the best technical and human solutions to protect its more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) long border with Belarus.
“We have to put a physical barrier at our borders because it can be clearly seen that electronic devices alone are not enough to deal with such a hybrid attack,” she said.
Morawiecki said Poland estimated around 10,000 people had been brought to Belarus from the Middle East, mostly Iraq and Syria, to put pressure on the EU’s eastern border.
On Wednesday, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said that by pushing migrants to the EU’s eastern border, the “Minsk regime has instrumentalised human beings,” in what she called a ” hybrid attack to destabilize Europe “.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said he and his Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas had discussed holding joint military exercises. A Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian military brigade is based in Lublin, in eastern Poland.
Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.