President Levits: Belarus counts as a "safe country" for illegal border crossers

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Latvian President Egils Levits said August 13 that migrants from third countries had no excuse to illegally cross the border from Belarus to Latvia as Belarus itself counts as a "safe country"

Speaking after talks with Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš at Rīga Castle, the head of state said:

"The situation at the border creates a hybrid war against Latvia and against the European Union. That is the reality, and we must react, and we must react firmly. That means that border security and Latvia's national security are come absolutely in first place," said President Levits, describing rapid improvements to border infrastructure as an "absolute priority".

Asked if turning back migrants risked landing Latvia in international courts, President Levits reiterated that Latvian national security was the number one priority, adding:

"With regard to human rights, these people who have arrived at a safe country - and Belarus is a safe country, Belarus doesn't hunt down these people who have arrived from a third country - they can ask for asylum in Belarus."

Prime Minister Kariņš agreed that Latvia was "threatened by hybrid war" along with Lithuania by the Belarus regime which is organizing the passage of third-country nationals to the borders of the Baltic states and Poland. He said his government had acted swiftly and given the Border Guard all necessary powers to protect the state border, with the help of the armed forces.

"We will continue to protect Latvia's and the European Union's external border, and we will not allow any forms of provocation or countermeasures from the Belarus regime," said Kariņš.


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