Poland and Lithuania want EU to help fund fence on the border with Belarus
Poland's and Lithuania's Ministers of Internal Affairs have said that their countries will strive for the EU to financially support the construction of fencing on both countries' borders with Belarus to help stem a migrant crisis they say has been instigated by the Belarusian side.
The meeting between Poland's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Bartosz Grodecki and Lithuania's Minister of Internal Affairs Agne Bilotaite took place in Vilnius as part of a two-day meeting of a Polish-Lithuanian Intergovernmental Commission for Cross-Border Cooperation, which ended on Friday.
"Both sides unanimously agreed that efforts should be made for the European Union to financially support the construction of the fence" on the border with Belarus, reads the statement from the Lithuanian Interior Ministry. The document also indicates that Lithuania and Poland "will seek to accelerate changes in EU law in the field of border protection and migration ”.
EU officials have repeatedly said EU law does not provide financing for the construction of border fencing. Financing can only be made available for specific security measures at the border.
Minister Grodecki, quoted in the statement, points out that Lithuania and Poland are obliged not only to protect their state borders and citizens, but also the entire EU, as their borders with Belarus are also the external borders of the community.
"Belarus is not a natural migration route, it is an organised pattern of trafficking in human beings," Grodecki said, and pointed out that "we are witnessing an attack of disinformation, also migrants are being deceived into believing that they can easily reach the EU".
During the meeting in Vilnius, it was also agreed that Lithuania and Poland will continue cooperation in order to stop illegal migration and will present a common position on the EU forum on human rights and migration.
Cooperation in the field of rescue and protection of the population on the Polish-Lithuanian border was also discussed, the culmination of which was the signing of the Methodological Instruction for fire brigades of the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Lithuania participating in mutual aid. The talks also covered cooperation in the field of sanitary and epidemiological services, as well as in transport. It was agreed that an important goal was to launch a passenger train service on the Vilnius-Warsaw route in the near future.
The Polish-Lithuanian Intergovernmental Commission for Cross-Border Cooperation was established on the basis of an agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on cross-border cooperation, signed on September 16, 1995 in Vilnius. The Commission meets alternately in Poland and Lithuania.
Over the past months Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have observed increasing numbers of illegal migrants crossing into their territories from Belarus. The three countries have accused Belarus of deliberately sending migrants to their borders in an effort to destabilise the EU.