David McAllister MEP: The situation on the EU external border with Belarus
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David McAllister MEP: The situation on the EU external border with Belarus

The European Parliament has been following the situation on the external EU border with Belarus very closely. On 12 July, the Committee on Foreign Affairs together with the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs discussed the migratory pressure on the Lithuanian border with Belarus. Comissioner Ylva Johansson, Minister of Interior of Lithuania Agnė Bilotaitė and Executive Director of Frontex Fabrice Leggeri.

Since then, the migratory flows from Belarus have also been directed to the Polish and Latvian borders, with over a thousand people detained after crossing the EU border illegally and many more prevented from crossing by the border protection authorities.

Reacting to these developments, on 2 September the Committee on Foreign Affairs held and exchange of views on the situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus and the exploitation of the ongoing humanitarian crisis as hybrid warfare against the EU and its Member States. We heard from the representatives of the governments of the Member States concerned: Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.  

There was unanimous agreement that this is pre-planned hybrid attack by the Lukashenka regime in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed due to ongoing human rights violations in Belarus. The migration crisis is created artificially with active involvement of Belarusian institutions in bringing in migrants for this purpose. Illegal migration is being complemented by disinformation attacks seeking to discredit the EU and its Member States. A particular concern is the upcoming joint Belarusian-Russian military exercise “Zapad 2021”, due to begin on 10 September in the border areas with the EU. It could be used for further provocations.

United EU action and messaging are needed to counter this threat. We need to update the toolbox for fighting hybrid threats accordingly. There needs to be a review of the EU migration policy to reflect new reality where illegal migration is being used to destabilise the EU. Although the Lukashenka regime hopes to force the EU to lift of sanctions, they should be further strengthened, also targeting entities and individuals involved in organising illegal migration to the EU.