The Parliament of Lithuania extended the country’s state of emergency in response to the ongoing EU border crisis with Belarus Tuesday, claiming that an ongoing “critical situation” regarding the influx of migrants from Belarus justified continued emergency operations. The ruling of the Seimas, or Lithuanian parliament, extends the state of emergency to January 15. The current state of emergency was originally meant to expire on December 9.
The state of emergency empowers the Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior and the Lithuanian Armed Forces to act with extraconstitutional authority in specified areas along the Lithuanian-Belarussian border. Specifically, the Lithuanian government will be able to restrict the ability of foreign migrants to receive and disseminate information via mobile and Internet access, as well as to declare residence or move freely within border territories. Furthermore, the state will have additional abilities to prevent free entry into Lithuania without inspection and to prevent migrants from organizing without supervision.
An additional Tuesday order from the Seimas provides for funds to be provided to certain migrants who have illegally crossed into Lithuania but who cooperate with the Lithuanian government and agree to return voluntarily to their home country. Such funds will be provided as a one-time cash benefit and money for plane tickets home, paid by the Lithuanian government, the European Union, and various humanitarian organizations.
While much attention has been paid to the Poland-Belarus border crisis in recent months, Lithuania and other Baltic states have felt the pressure from the unrestricted flow of migration coming from Belarus. The Lithuanian government originally enacted the current state of emergency in November after calling the migration from Belarus “criminal actions from the Belarus regime” and “hybrid attacks [and] emerging threats to public peace” against the EU.