Baltic parliament speakers, Sassoli visit Lithuania-Belarus border
Speaker of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) visited the Lithuanian-Belarusian border on Tuesday to understand the migration crisis and said rapid and decisive action is needed.
As of yesterday, 4,091 migrants had illegally crossed the Lithuanian border this year from Belarus and are mostly of middle eastern origin. The situation has been described as a "hybrid attack" on Lithuania by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Ratas visited the border alongside Speaker of the Saeima of Latvia Inara Murniece, Speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen and President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli.
The group gave a press conference at the Lithuanian Border Guard School and said the most important task in the region was ensuring the security of the borders of the European Union and its Member States.
It is necessary to join forces and cooperate in every way in order to find common solutions to stop the flow of illegal immigrants sent by Lukashenka's regime, a statement said.
Ratas underlined that the European Union had to keep the attention of its allies and partners on the situation on its external border.
"We have to react to the hybrid activities of Lukashenka's regime decisively and rapidly," he said. "The human trafficking supported by Belarus is unacceptable. Joint efforts of the European Union Member States have helped to deter the wave of illegal border crossing for the present, but it is important to stay on guard together."
At a trilateral meeting with his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts, Ratas also raised Russia's upcoming military exercise Zapad, which will take place in September.
"If Lithuania or Latvia are attacked, it is an attack against the whole European Union," Ratas emphasized. The Speakers agreed that the attack against the external border of the EU was brutal.
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Editor: Helen Wright