In the future, Belarusians will live without borders with Poland and Lithuania.
Lukashenka continues hybrid attacks against the European Union. Attempts to illegally cross the borders of Lithuania and Poland are recorded every day. The Lithuanian authorities said that the Belarusian security forces and illegal migrants began to use new tactics to storm the borders.
How to stop Lukashenka? The website Charter97.org talked about this with the MEP, ex-Minister of Defense of Lithuania Rasa Juknevičienė.
– The Lukashenka regime uses illegal migration to put pressure on the EU countries. How do you assess what is happening at the borders of Poland and Lithuania?
– I have to correct you a little bit and say that Lukashenka is not using just illegal migration, but migrant smuggling. It is something different from the migration issue that some European Union countries are facing. This was organized and orchestrated. People paid a lot of money to state companies, not just to smugglers. The state itself is organizing and using smuggling as an instrument. It was orchestrated just like in the Soviet time of active measures by KGB.
This crisis started with an announcement by Lukashenka in May. He threatened the European Union, especially Poland and Lithuania, that he will start not only floods of migrants but drugs and more. In June-July, he started this against Lithuania. Unfortunately, nobody was ready for such an attack. In the very beginning, everyone was allowed to come; however, we did not have any special places for these people. When autumn came, we had a lot of problems. Locals were against it because it was a shock for them as well.
Lukashenka’s target is our democracy, to make chaos in the countries and to force the EU to speak with him. Therefore, we had to change our tactics and politics. We built a fence, the physical border with Belarus, and did not allow more people to come. It is very important to be correct on diagnosis: what does this crisis mean and what is the current situation. Only then there is a possibility to use the right treatment.
Is Kremlin behind? Yes, it is. Maybe, they help to organize these people to come to Minsk from countries like Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere. It is for sure that Kremlin is behind Lukashenka. It is visible by huge disinformation that is coming not only from Minsk but especially from Moscow.
– We have already seen a hot phase when illegal migrants went to storm the Polish border. What is the best way to describe the situation? Are these hybrid attacks, maybe hybrid war?
– It is part of a hybrid war against the West that the Kremlin is orchestrating, and Lukashenka is a very good instrument. He became a puppet for Kremlin. We see that European leaders called Putin to solve the problem, but he himself is part of the problem. He is the main actor because without Putin Lukashenka would not be able to survive. Lukashenka would not be in the position he is in right now. The main root of the problem is Kremlin.
I am following the situation with Belarus, as well as Ukraine that is under attack for more than 7 years. Kremlin is trying to use this hybrid as a tool to keep these wars in a smaller spectrum so that Article 5 of NATO is not used. It is like war but is not a real war. It is like peace, but it has nothing to do with peace. This is the meaning of hybrid. Of course, Kremlin is scared of article 5, because they are afraid of real war. Who knows, maybe article 5 will be used in the future because there are a lot of talks. Russia tries to make small wars permanent issues. Permanently they try to attack our democracy.
Democracy is a very special animal. We have elections every 4-5 years, and people are afraid of big wars. I would be frank and open; migration and asylum systems are maybe the weakest point of the EU. Therefore, Kremlin and Minsk investigated the loopholes and weaknesses and used them against us, since first of all EU politics is based on Human Rights and humanity.
– How do you assess the telephone conversations between Lukashenka and Merkel? In your opinion, is it worth talking to a dictator in such a situation?
– This was extremely shocking news for many people in Lithuania. I do not know about other countries. Here I see differences in approaches to such issues. Perhaps, the countries that are not next to Belarus want only one thing — to solve the problem immediately, not thinking about the consequences or legitimacy of Lukashenka. This was a controversial perception, maybe, because of disinformation. On the other hand, this is Merkel's style: to call during a crisis. She has done it many times before. This time Merkel took responsibility on her shoulders.
The European Commission is involved in finding the solution. I am sure that it would be a disaster, if any migrants, who were used as a hybrid attack, will enter EU territory. This is not a solution to the issue. What kind of concession there will be is the main question. Of course, Lukashenka will not be legitimized as the President of Belarus. We have to help people to return home of their origin. UN could open a humanitarian corridor in Belarus to assist their return. Every country is taking part in a dialogue to find a solution.
– In one of your interviews, you said that Lukashenka has assistants not only in Moscow but also in Europe. How can the EU become more effective in combating such threats?
– I do not mean the structures of the EU, but there are politicians. Some of them have a similar ideology like former Soviet Union ideology, and they still live in very far left understanding of everything. They are fighting against the US; it is acceptable for them what is going in Russia and Belarus. I do not know whether they are paid, some probably are. It is a small group that does not have influence, yet they speak loudly. The same about the far-right. I would say that such groups are proxies of the Kremlin. Because of it, they are proxies of Lukashenka.
As well, there are still interests in doing business with Belarus because the EU was and still is an important partner for the Belarusian economy. Many businesses are interrelated, for example, aviation. Therefore, they have some lobby interest in the parliament.
– What mechanisms does the European Union have today to stop the Belarusian regime?
– It is not an easy process; we need to be united. The last resolution on Belarus was tough and comprehensive. A lot of important messages and proposals were proposed to European Commission and Council. Unfortunately, not all of them are yet on the table. Lukashenka committed a lot of crimes against his people. He violated the convention of torture several times. Those migrants became hostages of the regime, therefore, a useful discussion about the tribunal already started. It would be good if in the nearest future we will see concrete steps like more isolation and tough sanctions against this brutal regime.
Someone said that Kremlin is happy that Lukashenka is more and more dependent on Russia, but on the other hand, it became more expensive to support this criminal. That is why we are pushing the EU to have a more comprehensive and united strategy on Russia. Without that, it would not be easy to solve brutal dictatorship in the very center of the European continent.
– Can Lithuania, other Baltic states, Poland take actions at the national level that will stop Lukashenka?
– We are already taking them. We support Belarusians that are fighting for democratic Belarus. We do not want a physical border with Belarus, but today we are forced to have it. For us, our idea is to live without any border with Belarusians in the future. This is a common idea for Poland and Lithuania. We lived for centuries together as one country. Of course, now we have our statehoods, and we would like to keep them strong, secure, and most important democratic. That is why we are doing a lot. We are the voice on the behalf of Belarusian people in the EU, UN, and other institutions. No one else has such a strong voice in favor of Belarus as Poland and Lithuania.