Bilotaitė on curbing illegal migration in the region: we would support Finland's proposal to allow asylum refusals

Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė says Lithuania supports Finland's initiation of amendments to European Union (EU) law, allowing countries to refuse to grant asylum to people when faced with instrumentalised migration. According to the Minister, Finland has taken this initiative following a surge in migrant flows at its border.

Agnė Bilotaitė.<br>R.Danisevičiaus nuotr.
Agnė Bilotaitė.<br>R.Danisevičiaus nuotr.
Daugiau nuotraukų (1)

Nov 28, 2023, 11:29 AM

„Finland is proposing an EU-level mechanism to stop asylum admission altogether in the face of instrumentalised migration. Lithuania supports our Finnish colleagues,“ Bilotaitė told reporters on Monday.

„We believe that the EU countries must be given the tools to defend themselves and use these mechanisms in a special situation. (...) Such an instrument is needed,“ the Minister stressed, adding that she would like to see these amendments sooner.

Lithuania is in regular contact with its neighbours on the introduction of regional measures

Bilotaitė also pointed out that Lithuania is in constant contact and exchanges information on the situation at the border with other countries bordering the EU's external borders – Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Norway. The Minister noted that this format also allows for consultations on introducing regional measures, if necessary.

„When certain countries start indicating – in this case Finland – the need for a regional agreement, we will have a regional consultation, where we will agree that it is already necessary to take measures on a regional scale. In that case, we would go to our governments with these proposals, and a decision would be taken,“ said Ms Bilotaitė.

She stressed that the situation in the region – increased flows of irregular migration – is one of the indicators that will determine the measures countries will take to control irregular migration.

„As the threat level on our borders and the overall regional context changes, we have a phased plan of when we will do what. There are various measures to do this, from limiting the time of border checkpoints to organising or closing them,“ the Minister said.

„There are many measures, many indicators, and one of them is the situation in the region,“ said Ms Bilotaitė.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the number of foreigners living in Lithuania has surpassed 200,000 for the first time in the country's history. Last year, the majority of these were Ukrainian war refugees and Belarusian citizens persecuted by the regime. It is estimated that 86,000 Ukrainians and 62,000 Belarusians live in the country.

According to the data of the Ministry, 50 thousand foreigners came to Lithuania to work last year, the leading countries of origin being Belarus, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, and the number of foreigners coming from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan is growing.

According to the Minister, the rapid increase in the number of foreigners entering the country to work legally makes it increasingly challenging to ensure control and integration processes. For its part, the Department of State Security (VSAT) pointed out that a worrying trend has recently emerged, namely that the intelligence services of hostile countries can use immigrants.

This year, 16,000 decisions have been taken to ban the entry of foreign nationals into Lithuania due to threats to national security. For the same reason, 411 Belarusian citizens have had their temporary residence permits revoked this year, and 562 refused. This year, the VSAT refused entry to 527 Russian citizens and 603 Belarusian citizens due to threats to national security. According to the Minister, the restrictive measures adopted earlier are working.

Finland closed four of its eight border crossing points in mid-November with Russia. The country's government accuses Moscow of deliberately ignoring illegal migrants.

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