Despite Frontex remarks, Lithuania does not intend to change its pushback policy

Lithuanian officials at the Lithuania Belarusian border. V. Ščiavinski photo. Lrytas.lt
Lithuanian officials at the Lithuania Belarusian border. V. Ščiavinski photo. Lrytas.lt

The Fundamental Rights Office of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has recommended that Lithuania abandon its current policy of returning migrants who have crossed the border illegally and take them to border crossing points, where they can legally apply for asylum. But Lithuania has no intention of implementing this, and the potential sanctions are low – the worst-case scenario would be the withdrawal of the 53 Frontex officers working in Lithuania, Eglė Smoškaitė writes in TV3.lt

“As a Member State, we will take these recommendations into account one way or another. But they are not imperative for us to implement them quickly. They are recommendations for the member state. In that case, to the extent that it does not conflict with our policy of pushbacks in the event of a hybrid attack (as the European Council has stated in two of its conclusions), to the extent that it does not conflict with a situation of the state of emergency, and to the extent that it does not conflict with a situation of the state of emergency. It is Lithuania that has to assess to what extent we can take the proposals into account and to what extent, in the case of this state of emergency, we cannot. A constructive approach is needed here”, said Mr Abramavičius.

The Deputy Minister said that the security situation is escalating at the Ukrainian borders due to Russian threats, so Lithuania should not be relaxed either, although migration numbers have stabilised recently. This may have been influenced by the cold weather and the fact that more migrants are heading to Latvia.

“If we were to transport migrants to border checkpoints after being apprehended at the green border, it would be the same open borders policy, which is certainly not possible in Lithuania today. In this case, a selective policy based on certain vulnerability criteria would certainly continue. Such an option is out of the question”, said Mr Abramavičius.

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