Poland and Lithuania have raised concerns about a potential increase in authorised migration to their territories following the announcement of Belarus to allow visa-free entry for citizens of tens of countries.
The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, signed a decree permitting citizens of a total of 73 countries, including those in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, to travel to the country without the need to obtain a visa to attend an annual music festival that promotes the nation’s global integration.
As AP News explains, nationals of the 73 countries will be able to enter Belarus without a visa from July 4 until July 24, provided that they hold festival tickets.
The governments of Poland and Lithuania see the move as a threat that will bring another influx of migrants, recalling the vents of 2021 when thousands of migrants reached their borders with Belarus after transiting through the country, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The governments of both countries accuse the authorities of orchestrating the previous crisis and believe that the new visa-free regime is an attempt to repeat the situation once again.
The acting deputy of Poland’s Minister Coordinator of Special Services, Stanislaw Zaryn, warned that Belarus might exploit the visa-free regime to destabilise Europe, including Poland, by creating an irregular migration route to the West.
He further raised concerns about Belarus using the increased influx of migrants to intensify its hybrid operation on the eastern border.
“The migration facilitation introduced, if successful, may lead to an increase in the influx of people to Belarus, which Lukashenko’s services will use to intensify the hybrid operation conducted on our eastern border,” Zaryn wrote on its official Twitter account.
In addition to the above-mentioned, the Lithuanian government also suspects that Belarus may attempt to provoke Middle Eastern and African migrants at the border during the upcoming Nato summit that is scheduled to take place on July 11-12.
For this reason, Lithuania has decided to restore its internal border controls for a period of seven days, from July 7 until July 13.
Both Poland and Lithuania have introduced strict border rules with Belarus and continue to keep them in place.
Poland has already built a border wall with Belarus. Nonetheless, despite that, the country authorities just recently reported an increase in the number of irregular migrants from Belarus.
According to data provided by the Polish authorities, the majority of those entering Poland irregularly through Belarus come from Bangladesh, India, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Similarly, Lithuania also has strict border rules and continues to monitor its entire border sections with Belarus with modern monitoring systems in order to keep all movements in check and prevent hybrid attacks.
Source: Schengen Visa News