EU foreign and defense ministers on Monday agreed to launch a naval mission to prevent the inflow of illegal immigrants and also tackling the problem of migration from the south.
© AP/Scanpix

"We managed to agree on the operation, on the European Union's naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea, and it will very much depend on the mandate given by the UN Security Council. To save time, these processes will take place simultaneously, and Lithuania will take an active part in both of them. (…) The mission will be aimed at blocking those channels of illegal immigration to Europe and also finding an antidote to the causes of it," Linkevicius told BNS by phone from Brussels on Monday night.

Under the plan, the EU naval mission would be launched in June, and would involve military and intelligence ships stationed off Libyan coast to combat rising numbers of migrants risking their lives to get into Europe.

Libya's request to resolve this issue at the Security Council would be really helpful, Linkevicius said.

"Libya's request would be really desirable. But the existing situation in Libya is very unstable (…) and we need to work hard to get the country's approval. We really don’t want to tackle this issue without the opinion of the country where certain action would be taken. This is only one of the aspects. But we hope to reach agreement over the course of this month," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

A series of accidents in the Mediterranean Sea this year, when hundreds of migrants from North Africa drowned trying to reach Europe on overcrowded and unsafe ships, attracted the international community's attention to the problem of illegal immigration from the south.

The European Commission plans to draft legislation by the end of this year, introducing quotas, based on various criteria, for EU member states to accept a certain number of refugees. Lithuanian would be expected to accept 207 refugees.

BNS
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