Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Departmental Priorities

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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101. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department has carried out a threat assessment in relation to Belarus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56547/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The situation at the Belarussian border has escalated further and presents a significant challenge for Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, but also more broadly to the European Union as a whole. The situation in Belarus was discussed earlier this week by EU Foreign and Defence Ministers and is clearly very serious. Ministers expressed solidarity with Polish, Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues at the meeting.

At the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, EU Foreign Ministers, myself included, discussed the escalation in the crisis along the EU’s borders with Belarus. We took swift action and agreed to broaden the listings criteria for sanctions on the Belarusian regime.

The EU is continuing to monitor developments in Belarus and at the border very closely. It is likely that the Council will come back to the issue in due course and on the basis of the most up-to-date information available.

Ireland has repeatedly demonstrated our solidarity with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, and with those trapped at the border. Just three weeks ago, Minister of State Byrne visited the Lithuanian-Belarussian border, accompanied by members of the Lithuanian Government. As part of that visit, he viewed some migrant camps that have been established by the Lithuanian Government, met with the Lithuanian Border Guards and also with the Lithuanian Red Cross, which, this year, has received a contribution of €100,000 from Irish Aid to help provide relief to the migrants.

Threat assessments carried out by the Defence Forces relate primarily to those locations and theatres where Defence Forces personnel are deployed on operations. Given the intelligence and security issues involved in such assessments, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

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