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Belarus must be held accountable for human trafficking, Baltic states say

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By Reuters
Belarus must be held accountable for human trafficking, Baltic states say
Belarus must be held accountable for human trafficking, Baltic states say   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

VILNIUS – Belarus is forcing migrants to breach the European Union border, and the government of President Alexander Lukashenko must be held accountable for human trafficking, EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said on Monday.

“We … condemn the actions taken by the Lukashenko regime instrumentalising migrants for political purposes”, the presidents of the three Baltic states said in a joint statement after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda via video link.

The European Union has accused Lukashenko of orchestrating the influx of migrants to pressure the EU to back down over sanctions slapped on his government. Belarus has repeatedly denied the accusation.

“Thousands of migrants are being directed by Belarus officials to storm the EU’s external border,” Lithuania’s Nauseda told a news conference.

Estonian President Alar Karis, Latvian President Egils Levits and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called on the European Commission to introduce, “without delay”, changes in EU laws to tighten asylum possibilities.

They also said the EU should pay for the construction of barriers at the bloc’s external border, such as the one with Belarus.

European Union foreign ministers signed off on Monday on changes to the bloc’s sanctions framework, preparing the way for a new round of sanctions on Belarus.