MINSK, 22 July (BelTA) – There is no reliable evidence suggesting that Belarus encourages illegal migration, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview with the Arab-speaking TV channel Sky News Arabia on 19 July, BelTA has learned.
Asked by the journalist to comment on allegations that Belarus has a role in the increase in illegal migration, the president said: “I would ask to present evidence proving that we are facilitating the illegal migration of third-country nationals to Lithuania. No one has provided evidence suggesting that we are encouraging or facilitating this migration.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko acknowledged attempts to illegally penetrate the European Union through the territory of Belarus. However, this is happening for three main reasons and the head of state listed them.
“First. There should be people wanting to leave one country for another one. Such people are many in the world, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Second. There should be people who will try to smuggle these migrants wherever they want,” the Belarusian leader explained. According to him, smugglers are driven primarily by financial reasons, they receive money from migrants for their services. “Such people exist, perhaps in Belarus, too. They must be found and face the law,” the president noted.
“And the third factor: there must be people in the country of destination who pick up migrants at the border and deliver them to the country of destination. And this is also about money,” the head of state continued.
Aleksandr Lukashenko compared migrant smuggling groups with transnational mafia, similar to those involved in drug and arms trafficking. “In this regard, I would advise Lithuanians, Poles, Germans, other countries of the European Union that is very concerned about this, to look for reasons for this problem on their own territory before reproaching us,” the president stressed.
“If they (Lithuanians, Poles, Germans or French) want to conceal the truth, they can blame Belarus for being involved in this migration. If they want to really fight against illegal migration and start handling this issue properly, then let them start with themselves,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to the president, there are criminal groups in Lithuania, whose involvement in illegal migration seems obvious.
“Why don't they see it? As soon as they eliminate gangs that bring illegal migrants to Lithuania for money, illegal migration to Lithuania will be lower than last year. Illegal migrants will be few and far between. So let them get down to work. If they need help, we will help them, but not free of charge,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that in the current situation it is at least odd for the Lithuanian side to demand that Belarus should protect them from illegal migrants. “They imposed sanctions on us, they resorted to strangling my country, to strangling my people. I am the president of these people. I must assess the situation and take certain steps to prevent people from being strangled and the country from being destroyed. Acting this way against the Belarusian people, they want us to protect them in this situation? Listen, this is at least strange,” the president is convinced.
The head of state noted that the work to prevent cross-border crimes, be it illegal migration, smuggling of weapons, drugs, requires significant funding. “If you want us to help you with this, then don't throw a noose around our neck,” the Belarusian leader said.