What are the main ingredients of a James Bond film? A handsome actor to pose as the main hero and a storyline involving a villain plotting a new ploy to blackmail and subjugate the world.
At this point, we suspect the world has at least one villain who fits that description. And he’s based in Europe.
In an exclusive interview, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister told EURACTIV that Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko was using refugees as weapons in a hybrid war to destabilize Lithuania, the country which hosts representatives of the Belarusian opposition.
In the past six months, 21 times more migrants crossed the border illegally to Lithuania than in 2020. Almost 1,700 migrants entered Lithuania from Belarus this year, including more than 1,000 in July alone. .
Half of them identified as Iraqi citizens, while others came from Congo, Cameroon, Guinea, Iran and Afghanistan.
Lithuania believes Lukashenko is using refugees as a weapon and claims official travel agencies, such as airlines, appear to be collaborating.
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis cited airlines that transfer people from Baghdad to Istanbul, or Istanbul to Minsk, as well as travel agencies registered in several countries that facilitate human trafficking for a nice profit.
A quick online search for cheap tickets reveals the names of several airlines that fly from Istanbul to Minsk, with the starting price of a one-way ticket at € 106. Even giving them the benefit of the doubt that all tickets are sold to people with valid visas, this represents a surprising number of travelers wishing to visit Belarus.
For a small country with no experience in dealing with waves of refugees like Lithuania, such hybrid attacks have destabilizing potential that should not be underestimated.
Lukashenko castigates Lithuania, but he could also be tempted to punish the entire EU for imposing sanctions.
And if it is on human misery that he wants to capitalize, the last European dictator could soon have new ammunition in mind.
The recent departure of Western forces from Afghanistan could, however, trigger a new wave of asylum seekers from the troubled country. International law states that they cannot simply be turned away.
And, thanks to shortcuts which Lithuania claims are provided by airlines and official travel agencies, this time migrants can arrive in days, not months.
The risks are real. The EU has clearly been unable to learn the lessons of the 2015 migration crisis. There had been many promises to ‘destroy the business model’ of human traffickers, but there is little or no evidence that these efforts were successful.
However, it should not be that difficult to heavily penalize airlines or travel agencies that might be caught selling their services to people without the necessary visas to enter the EU, thereby facilitating illegal migration.
It is high time that Josep Borrell and Charles Michel decide among themselves who will wear the costume of James Bond and save Europe.
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On Wednesday, the Commission will unveil the ‘Fit for 55’ package: more than a dozen pieces of legislation aimed at ensuring that the bloc reduces its emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Learn more about the dossier transport.
The European Commission will launch a fund to mitigate the societal cost of expanding the EU’s carbon market – the Emissions Trading System (ETS) – for buildings and road transport, according to a draft. leak seen by EURACTV.
The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine have repeatedly failed to provide data that regulators see as standard requirements of the drug approval process, according to five people with knowledge of the EU’s efforts to assess the drug. drug, offering new insight into the country’s struggle to gain foreign acceptance for its product.
EU lawmakers need to make sure they see all the effects of technological change on working patterns before regulating them, as we will likely see a continued shift towards remote and flexible employment, the researchers said. policymakers at an event organized by EURACTIV on the future of work across the bloc.
With less than a decade to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, new studies show that local and regional authorities are still often marginalized in monitoring and coordinating national implementation. work of global benchmarks.
Pay attention to..
- The Commission presents a Fit for 55 climate legislative package on Wednesday.
- Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas receives Simona Kustec, Slovenian Minister for Education, Science and Sport.
- Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni participates in an EU side event at the United Nations High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Views are those of the author
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]