HomeAustriaForeign Minister Schallenberg in Vilnius: “We stand by Lithuania, even in times...

Foreign Minister Schallenberg in Vilnius: “We stand by Lithuania, even in times of crisis”

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Minister of the Interior Karl Nehammer travelled to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius today. Together with their counterparts, Gabrielius Landsbergis and Agnė Bilotaitė, they visited the Lithuanian border with Belarus, where the number of illegal crossings has increased in recent weeks. Since the beginning of May, over 4,000 people have crossed the border, compared with fewer than 100 in the previous year.

We are witnessing how Lithuania is protecting the EU’s external border and standing up to the regime of Lukashenko, whose inhuman system is not only directed against his own people, but even extends to utilising destitute people as a weapon against the EU. We will not tolerate migrants being used as a means of exerting pressure – no matter when or where

confirmed Foreign Minister Schallenberg, assuring solidarity with Lithuania in the fight against Lukashenko’s approach. Since August, 13 officers of the Austrian Cobra special operations unit have been supporting the surveillance of the Lithuanian-Belarusian border.

The political crisis in Belarus has lasted for over a year now, and reached Austria physically when Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanowskaya stopped over in Vienna after fleeing from the Olympics. Tragic events that have taken place during the crisis include the death of the activist Vitaly Shishov, the imprisonment of the journalist Raman Protasevich and the start of the mock trial against the opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova.

The case of Kristina Timanovskaya in particular has made it depressingly clear that all Belarusians are potential targets. When the rule of law and human rights are being trampled upon, business as usual is out of the question

commented Foreign Minister Schallenberg. Austria is a strong advocate for Belarusian civil society, which was made particularly clear during the visit to Vienna by Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in April.

I can assure you of one thing: We will hold on to our commitment to a free, open, independent Belarus.


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