Lithuania has proposed that the European Union sanction Belarusian citizens and companies who are helping migrants cross into EU member states.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Tuesday, “We must send a very clear signal not only to Belarus but to every dictator who would use such an instrument against the European Union or any of its members, that not only he fails, but he also gets a strike back.”
“Sanctions are one such answer.”
He said his government had presented the EU’s External Action Service with a list of Belarusian citizens and companies it holds responsible for the increased migrant arrivals.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg agreed, telling the same news conference: “Those responsible must face strict sanctions.”
The news comes amid the Lithuanian government announcing the construction of a 508 km (315 mile) razor-wire-topped fence on its border with Belarus, to be finished by September 2022.
Officials from Poland and Latvia later advocated the construction of similar fences along their own borders with the former Soviet republic.
Lithuania and neighboring EU states Poland and Latvia have reported an increase in the number of migrants, many from Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to cross their borders from Belarus
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he will no longer hold back migrants after the EU imposed sanctions following a disputed presidential election last year.