EU will stick together in defending its borders, says Kariņš

Latvia and the rest of the European Union (EU) must show the Belarus regime that sending migrants across the EU border is pointless, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) said in an interview with TV3 channel on Wednesday August 11.

The prime minister indicated that Belarus is waging a hybrid war against the EU, first targeting Lithuania and then Latvia. In this situation, Latvia must not allow the immigrants that have arrived in Belarus to cross the Latvian border, which is also the border of the EU, the premier stressed.

"With this hybrid warfare against the EU, the Belarusian side is only escalating the tensions. As for us... We [EU] will be sticking together, keeping our composure, but we will be acting very resolutely," Kariņš said.

As reported, the government on Tuesday declared a state of emergency at the Latvian-Belarusian border, authorizing the State Border Guard to use physical force in order to return illegal immigrants to the country from which they came.

Taking into consideration the steeply increasing numbers of illegal immigrants trying to cross into Latvia from Belarus, as well as the large number of illegal immigrants entering Lithuania from Belarus, the state of emergency will run from August 11 until November 10 in the following municipalities: Ludza Region, Kraslava Region, Augšdaugava Region, and the City of Daugavpils.

According to the government's decision, the National Armed Forces and the State Police will also assist the Border Guard with the prevention of illegal border crossing.

Border guard at Latvia Belarus border

The Border Guard, the Armed Forces and the State Police will have the right to instruct illegal immigrants to return to the country from which they came, as well as use physical force if an illegal immigrant ignores their instructions.

The government has also authorized the Border Guard and the Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office to use the Public Procurement Law's provisions to ensure accommodation, food and basic necessities for illegal immigrants who have arrived in Latvia from Belarus.

If necessary, the Cabinet of Ministers will request international assistance through the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism, NATO and other international organizations.

The number of people detained for trespassing Latvian-Belarussian border so far this year has reached 343, LETA learned from the State Border Guard.

On Tuesday, August 10, 77 people were detained for illegal crossing of the Latvian-Belarusian border, LETA reported.

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