EU is working on new sanctions against those involved in smuggling activities to Belarus

In view of the increasing numbers of migrants at Poland’s external EU border, Brussels is working flat out on new sanctions instruments against airlines and other parties involved in illegal smuggling activities.

Brussels – According to diplomats, the permanent representatives of the governments of the EU countries want to launch an expansion of the current sanctions regime this Wednesday. It could already be officially decided at the meeting of EU foreign ministers next Monday. The move should make it possible, among other things, to force companies based in the EU to cease all business relationships with the Belarusian airline Belavia with immediate effect. One of the consequences of this would be that aircraft leasing companies would have to reclaim aircraft lent to the airline. In addition, tour operators and airlines from third countries could also be targeted.

The EU’s hope is that not so many people from poor or conflict-ridden countries will come to Belarus. The leadership in the country is accused of deliberately bringing migrants into the country in order to then bring them to the border with Poland for onward travel to the EU. The assumption is that the ruler Alexander Lukashenko wants to avenge himself for the sanctions that the EU has imposed because of the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition. Aircraft leasing companies that have leased machines to Belavia include the Danish company Nordic Aviation Capital and the Irish company AerCap. According to information from EU circles, Belavia recently only leased significantly more than half of the aircraft it used.

The EU also wants to increase the pressure on the countries of origin of the migrants and on transit countries. They should be made to prevent or at least make it more difficult for people to leave or continue their journey to Belarus. According to the EU, there have already been contacts with the governments in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Georgia in the past. They could now be extended to countries such as Morocco, Cameroon, Syria, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Egypt as well as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. (dpa)

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