Malinauskas: we could witness a tectonic shift in politics and society already within two months

The Lithuanian-Belarusian border. Photo Ruslanas Iržikevičius

Former Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ former advisor and vlogger Skirmantas Malinauskas shared key insights on his Facebook page on the ongoing migrant crisis. According to him, we should act now because, so far, the results have been tragic.

“Ok, final remarks about the illegal [migrant] crisis because the rest of the week will be dedicated to other things – two episodes, today I am headed to a youth summer camp in Trakai and tomorrow, we can meet up at a discussion in Naujoji Akmenė,” he started his entry.

According to S. Malinauskas, it is important to note several arguments that have been surfacing in the public domain.

“I have seen intelligent people sharing several arguments, which sometimes leave me shrugging.

  1. “What crisis? Have you seen any of the illegal migrants at all? Is there anyone shooting, dying or have the prices risen at Maxima stores?” It’s a major crisis. We might not see the three thousand illegal migrants because, so far, they are being kept together, but this won’t last long. If we cannot send the people away, the government will be forced to think about long-term solutions, which would be veeeery expensive for just those three thousand, not to mention how more than a hundred new ones are detained every day.

To help you grasp the scope of the problem – there are 1.8 thousand families in Vilnius waiting for social housing. And they will wait for a long time yet. Across Lithuania, there are 10 thousand such families. Think for yourself, what our capacities are and what the cost of decisions is in terms of solely money. Prices don’t have to suddenly jump in Maxima – if the government and Seimas are forced to divert hundreds of millions to the migrant crisis, pensions will either rise less or not at all, same with children’s money, the untaxed income size and so on. But food prices will rise.

  1. “We will send all the illegals away without the right to return to the Schengen Zone. It’s just a matter of time.” You can send the illegals back to their country of origin or the country they reached us from. Both cases are complicated because Belarus will not receive them, while if the individual is unwilling, it is exceedingly difficult to discover the country of origin and sort out documents. Furthermore, the countries of origin are little interested in interfering, why obstruct their citizens from seeking their fortunes in the EU? We can look at the experience of other EU countries to see how “successful” they were at it. It also doesn’t matter how many we send as long as Lukashenko’s conveyer continues functioning, twice as many will cross the border from Belarus again. Everything is in his hands.

The conclusion is that there are two approaches. The first and most important is border security by all available measures. All else is derivative. The second path is to form the sort of conditions for the illegals that they would be worse than in their countries of origin and that they would themselves be interested in returning. This is difficult because, at some point, it begins to clash with the principles of humanism. You can’t leave people to starve, there’s already not enough penitentiaries to detain everyone and the state’s use of violence is limited by law; to put it in other words, we are simply a different level of the country than Iraq or Syria. Back to the first path.

Talking to Lukashenko is not a solution because it does not fundamentally resolve the problem. We would demolish our reputation, betray the European values and display weakness, while the dictator would obtain a club he can swing at any time he is opposed to any of our decisions. Once again, only the first path remains.

  1. “Everyone who criticises the government’s decisions is helping Lukashenko.” No, the ones helping Lukashenko are those claiming that Lithuania’s long-term foreign policy was mistaken and that we should have pandered to the cockroach, avoid the sanctions question because we are small and weak. This narrative is clearly formed by the Kremlin and Minsk. On the other hand, everyone can see that the problem has not only not been resolved over the span of two months but even worsened. The president is hiding in a bush, ministers are bickering and I won’t even write about the Seimas. It is natural to criticise the government under such circumstance.
  2. “Those protesting against the illegals’ camps are participants of the Kremlin’s operations and smugglers.” Everyone understands that the illegals are a problem and no one celebrates them. Neither the left nor the right, neither the private nor the public sector. Everyone can see the problem and the tensions are entirely understandable. Remember elementary examples of where there were attempts to make a few apartments in an apartment building into social housing and think of the uproar this caused. How the Žiežmariai community rose up when a disabled children’s care home was being built. This is our own children, our own people we were talking about. Is there anyone who expects that we will embrace the illegals? Yes, the Kremlin will use it, as will the opposition and the smugglers, and the marchers – it’s natural. We simply need a clear message of how the illegal influx is being contained, declining and when they will be stopped.
  3. “Don’t get in the way and let us work!” Heard this before? The country belongs to all of us and it is natural that many have their own opinion, perspective and emotional ties. The biggest problem isn’t one of “talking”, the way everyone preaches right now. It’s hard to talk when the other side doesn’t want to listen. It requires a great deal of time and effort (usually, everyone remains at their own positions) and in a time of crisis, these resources are in short supply. It is important to have a clear plan to contain the crisis and to implement it effectively. If you are successful, the other things won’t be as important.
  4. Remember how the Gediminas Hill was collapsing? We spoke to Skvernelis back then and we agreed that if the slope and tower collapse, all else won’t matter because we will be remembered by history as the government that saw it happen. There was much criticism, funds had to be found urgently, as were specialists. Several potential options had to be chosen, the curating vice minister stepped down, the hill doesn’t look as aesthetic now as it did before and the work still needs to be concluded but the collapse was halted. And the tensions vanished. We intentionally didn’t venture to discuss who cut down trees and when. Along the way, we found the remains of the 1863 uprising participants, which were ceremoniously buried.

There’s politics and there’s physics. Politics is discussions of what taxes should be like, what to increase – pensions or children’s money? Physics is something that politics can’t argue with. So, here’s the current situation. There’s a Gediminas Hill collapsing for the president, Seimas and cabinet. No one cares about disputes, what matters is for it to not collapse. All possible measures should have been leveraged already yesterday. This isn’t happening and we will pay a severe price for it. We already are, just that the summertime heat and relaxation don’t let us understand it. The optimistic reassurers are just unable to comprehend it because they haven’t faced such decision making.

When the prime minister and president repeat in unison that the border can’t be protected more because the Zapad exercises are due to run, it seems like total capitulation to me. The exercises will be held in a month. During this period, you can do many a thing. And the exercises are also a matter, which should mobilise us, not make us fear.

  1. “What can the troops do? Nothing.” We allocate significant funds to the military. Equipment, trained individuals and armament would be a luxury if it were for solely conventional warfare. Yes, preparedness to defend must deter the enemy and this is the main factor. However, we are now faced with a serious threat, which is fundamentally weakening our state.

If we view the border-crossing illegals, not as refugees, which they are not, but hybrid war participants, the military has full freedom to act as it sees fit. Otherwise, its purpose vanishes because why build an armoured door if anyone can open them with the password “asylum”?

Even the question of “are you proposing we shoot the migrants?” is stupid. Do you drive? If someone were to decide to commit suicide today and jumps right in front of your car at the last moment, do you become a murderer? I think not. If people see a physical barrier, if they are warned verbally, with shots into the air and still disregard it, they must realise what comes next and it’s their choice. From a ticket Baghdad-Minsk to a mossy swamp on the border. You are responsible for your own bad decisions.

  1. The EU is pressuring to receive the migrants.” This is not the case. The EU itself understands now what the threat is. It also understands that now is not 2015 when people were fleeing war zones en mass.  Everyone can see Lukashenko going crazy. Everyone understands that we are defending not only our own border, but also the EU’s external border. I am certain that if the troops are mobilised, no one would say a word of reprimand. Quite the contrary – we would have support,” S. Malinauskas said.

According to him, the general picture is clear, we just need to choose suitable tactics and operational measures, which is up to specialists.

“If the coming two months will be like the past two, we will witness tectonic faults in society and politics. After all, it’s clear what comes next. Tensions will rise in both the camps and near them. The migrants’ money will run out, but their needs will remain. Crime rates will inevitably rise as per what has been noted in all EU countries, which received larger groups of migrants. We can’t even deport those convicted, antagonisms will begin, aggression, the public will increasingly feel undefended; it’s unclear whether cells with heating in penitentiaries, normal food and oversight will worry the migrants much. Lukashenko is already promising to send armed terrorists to take revenge for supposedly harmed women – will we await them in the city centres?

Yes, this will strengthen our pro-Kremlin, radical political powers even more. Yes, having fled the Seimas, Karbauskis is already rubbing his hands because he need not do anything other than wait. Why should we let these figures win so easily?

Humanitarian questions will contribute as well – how do you ensure the illegal migrants’ children the right to education? How do you treat them, dress them, feed them, integrate them and so on? People who do not know the language and have no source of revenue will be entirely dependent on state aid. That’s fundamentally why they are coming. Let us have no illusions on someone taking on and sharing this burden with us in the West. Did we want it at all?” he asked.

He also reminded that after the crisis in 2015, the EU’s countries shared the refugee influx in solidarity. “Do you know how many refugees were planned to be sent to Lithuania back then? 325. That’s how our capacities were viewed 6 years ago. We now have ten times more illegals and so, to everyone advising that we should remember we have hard balls, let me remind you that sometimes, it’s worse being moronic than being soft. Decisions are needed here and now and we have an entire arsenal of measures to leverage. Some won’t work, some will; the result is key and it is currently tragically poor,” S. Malinauskas said.

The latest

Another 185 migrants have been detained in Lithuania over the past 24 hours after illegally crossing into the country from Belarus, the State Border Guard Service said on August 03, according to BNS.

This brings the total number of detected illegal crossings by migrants into Lithuania to 4,026 this year so far. 

Lithuania is considering declaring a state of emergency at the border with Belarus, rather than nationwide, among other options, Deputy Defense Minister Arnoldas Abramavičus said.  “One of the options is to impose a state of emergency on the five-kilometre border strip,” he told LRT Radio. “Another option under consideration is to impose a state of emergency in border municipalities.” 

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