Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis meets the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, raises the issue of illegal migration from Belarus
On 8 July, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) Marija Pejčinović Burić and discussed topical issues of the region, and the CoE's role in defending the main values of the organisation: democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.
During the meeting, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister highlighted the Russian government's restrictions on civil society and its failure to comply with the order of the European Court of Human Rights to free the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and voiced his concern about the constantly deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus. The Foreign Minister also raised the issue of a surge in the number of irregular migrants from Belarus. This issue is of particular relevance to Lithuania at the moment.
Pejčinović Burić stressed that although Belarus was not a member of the CoE, the Council was nevertheless following the situation in that country and had repeatedly expressed concerns about the persecution, detention and torture of peaceful demonstrators and, in particular, journalists. The Secretary General assured that she, relevant CoE institutions, and the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees were ready to assist Lithuania in solving the problem of illegal migrants from Belarus, on the basis of CoE Conventions, including the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, to which Belarus is a party, also by using supervisory bodies of these Conventions.
Landsbergis stressed the importance of ensuring conflict resolution, peace and security in the CoE area, especially in the South Caucasus region — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister has recently visited the region together with the Foreign Ministers of Austria and Romania.
The Secretary General visited Lithuania at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and took part in the Ukraine Reform Conference. Pejčinović Burić also met with the President of Lithuania, the Speaker of the Seimas (Parliament), the Minister of Justice, as well as members of the delegation of the Seimas to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.