President: Hybrid warfare on Belarus border, not migrant crisis

Kersti Kaljulaid at an official meeting with Czech foreign minister Jakub Kulhanek at Kadriorg on Saturday.
Kersti Kaljulaid at an official meeting with Czech foreign minister Jakub Kulhanek at Kadriorg on Saturday. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

Outgoing president Kersti Kaljulaid reiterated statements she made earlier that recent, large-scale border crossings from Belarus in to European Member States Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, are a hybrid attack on the part of Alexander Lukashenko's regime and do not constitute a migration crisis.

Kaljulaid said: "The hybrid attacks at the EU-Belarus border which started in the summer, in which third-country nationals are used to organize illegal border crossings, are not a migration crisis."

"However, the pressure from the Lukashenko regime does not change our agreed policy towards Belarus," she continued, after separate meetings at Kadriorg with Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto and Czech foreign minister Jakub Kulhanek, both in town for the 14th annual Lennart Meri conference.

Since mid-summer, thousands of people have, according to reports, crossed the border, many of them originally from Iraq, and corralled by Belarusian security forces.

The president also voiced her gratitude on Saturday to the Czech Republic for its participation in Baltic air policing duties, and NATO eFP battlegroups in Latvia and Lithuania.

European security more broadly, Afghanistan and cooperation with African countries were also on the table at the meetings, while Kadriorg invited the Czech Republic to join the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund (3SIIF).

The 3SIIF is an investment fund established within the framework of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), which, Kaljulaid says, will allow better use of economic potential and drive Europe's economic growth.

The Czech Republic is already a member of the 3SI itself.

Kaljulaid, who leaves office in October, said it was important for the people of Belarus to have the right to choose the future they want.

Kaljulaid, Liimets: Estonia and Finland have good cooperation in digital field, need to continue this

The president also highlighted the good cooperation between Estonia and Finland in the digital field. The president and the Finnish foreign minister also discussed possibilities to invite other countries to join the Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions (NIIS).

Estonia's foreign minister, Eva Maria Liimets (Center), also met her Finnish and Czech counterparts Saturday.

Liimets noted that relations with Finland as a close neighbor were key if progress is to be made on combatting the pandemic.

Liimets said: "During the coronavirus crisis, cooperation between Estonia and Finland has been of key importance."

"For this reason, I stressed to my colleague that it is important for us to have a close exchange of information in the autumn on decisions and plans concerning COVID and to have an opportunity for discussion," she went on.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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