Addressing the leaders of Lithuania and all European countries
The support that Lithuania has offered to Ukraine is most admirable. And its assessment of Russian foreign policy – an aggressive, revisionist foreign policy – turned out to be a right one. Many of Lithuania’s Western European partners naively preferred to continue doing (gas and oil-) business with the Kremlin, hoping that one day, this would seduce Russia to taking a more moderate stance. Trade and investments would civilize Russia, Wandel durch Handel.
Russia has opted for a different, an uncivilized/barbaric direction instead. Hundreds of innocent Ukrainian civilians have been killed, over a million have already fled the country. Millions more people are expected to cross the borders with Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and, especially, Poland.
However, over the past days, pictures of a separate category of refugees have been broadcast on the international news channels as well: migrants from far away places, mainly in Africa and Southern Asia, who once moved to Ukraine to study and/or work there. Some of them encountered problems at border posts, but finally managed to leave the nightmare that hit them so hard as well. These are people who have made themselves useful for Ukrainian society, contributed to the economy and decently paid taxes. People who had sometimes even arrived at Ukraine as refugees at an earlier stage (from Afghanistan, for instance).
We would like to call on you not to forget these people – who, even more than the native Ukrainians, are finding themselves in a difficult and vulnerable situation now. They needed time to build up a new life in Ukraine, now they will have to go through that mental process again. Some of them might want to return to their fatherland, some of them, for all kind of reasons, can’t. Please give them a chance to stay in Lithuania too. Many of them are highly qualified (and are fluent in English and French and even Ukrainian) and might be able to contribute to the further expansion of Lithuania’s ICT sector, for instance.
We noticed that propagandist russian news networks and politicians have already started using this situation to our disadvantage and we hope that you will not let this be a weapon for their destructive misinformation campaigns.
We count on your generosity. Welcoming refugees who originate from all parts of the world (and who are not to blame for their precarious situation) is a symbol of something that Lithuania is and Russia is not: a modern, civilized and trully European country.
Jeroen Bult (Journalist, NL)
Gajus J. Milkeraitis (MB Ritmas ir Baublys, LT)