Estonia's next step in support for Lithuania, which has been facing a major influx of migrants crossing its border illegally from Belarus in recent weeks, will be diplomatic, across European Union and NATO member states, as well as taking advantage of Estonia's non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says, following personnel and materiel already sent to the southernmost Baltic States since last month.
Kallas said: "We have also decided to support Lithuania through diplomatic relations. We are at present a member of the UN Security Council, and we intend to raise this issue there," Kallas said on Friday, following a video-linked meeting with her Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts.
"The regime in Minsk will sooner or later lose its business model," Kallas tweeted Friday, referring to Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, whose regime has been charged in Estonia with orchestrating the arrival of migrants into Lithuania following months of deteriorating relations between the two countries and between Belarus and the EU and the West as a whole.
Met with Prime Ministers of Latvia @krisjaniskarins and Lithuania @IngridaSimonyte over video today to discuss how to offer more support to Lithuania and make sure the external border of the EU will hold. The regime in Minsk will sooner or later lose its business model.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) August 6, 2021
Estonian diplomats will raise the issue with the EU and NATO also, Kallas said, echoing calls made earlier on by former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
As reported by ERR News, rehousing any migrants – who predominantly hail from Iraq and several other Middle-Eastern, North African and Sub-Saharan African countries – would only happen in Estonia if Lithuania requested it, Kallas added.
Lithuania's prime minister, Ingrida Šimonyte, has expressed gratitude for the assistance and support from Estonia so far, Kallas said.
Baltic prime ministers: Protecting the Schengen borders a shared European responsibility
The Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Prime Ministers expressed their determination to protect the external borders of the European Union from illegal migration led by Belarus in a joint statement adopted on Friday at a video conference, and stressed that concrete steps will be taken to curb it in close cooperation with EU institutions and partners.
"We decided today that the Baltic states will jointly lead the development of additional sanctions in the European Union against the Belarusian regime. But we must also continue to identify human smugglers and their business models,", Kallas said summarized the meeting.
In addition to close cooperation with EU Member States and institutions, and with our allies outside Europe, it is also very important to engage in dialogue with the countries of origin of the migration, Kallas said. We need to raise awareness that the people trying to illegally enter the European Union from Belarus are victims of an anti-EU attack launched by the Lukashenko regime.
The Estonian prime minister said that the exchange of information and coordination between the Baltic states has been very good so far, and proposed to meet again on the issue, and to hold follow-up meetings at the level of foreign, interior and defence ministers.
The full text of the Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is available here:
Editor: Andrew Whyte