There is still no solution in sight to the conflict over thousands of migrants in Belarus on the border with Poland. The people from crisis regions hope to be able to enter the EU.
Minsk – Thousands of migrants spent another night in the cold in Belarus on the border with Poland. The state media in Minsk distributed film footage of desperate people who wait in tent camps and around campfires and hope to cross the EU border.
Politicians from the authoritarian ruled ex-Soviet republic and helpers brought the migrants, as could be seen on state television, bread, pickled vegetables and water. The Council of the Republic – the House of Lords in the People’s Assembly – issued a statement calling it a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
The West preached moral standards all over the world, but did not implement them in the crisis over migrants, it said in the letter published in Minsk. The criticism was directed primarily against neighboring Poland. The EU member has stationed thousands of soldiers at the border to prevent the barbed wire from breaking through. In places, migrants had already torn down the fences.
Some cross the border
Meanwhile, according to Polish media, two large groups of migrants broke the border from Belarus to Poland. Several dozen migrants managed to destroy fences near the villages of Krynki and Białowieża and to cross the border, reported the Polish news agency PAP on Tuesday evening, citing the local broadcaster Białystok. The station quoted a spokeswoman for the border guards that in both cases fences and barriers had been violently torn down.
Some of the migrants have been returned to Belarus, while others have been released. Belarusian border guards released pictures of several people who were bleeding from their heads and hands. There were deep cuts in the palms of the hands after people tried to get over the barbed wire fences. They are Kurds. They said they got medical help.
The Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko called on Tuesday to let people through. They didn’t want to settle in Poland, but mainly in Germany, he said in an interview.
The EU sees Lukashenko as responsible for the worsening situation in the border region. The politician, decried as the “last dictator in Europe”, has a reputation for allowing people from crisis states such as Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq to be flown in in order to smuggle them towards the EU border.
Lukashenko had denied the allegations and held international smuggling networks responsible for organizing people’s trips. He again admitted that he would no longer stop migrants on their way to the EU. “Do I have too much money, or what?” He said in the interview with a view to the costs of deploying border guards.
Therefore all people would now be allowed through. Machines with migrants on board were again expected at the airport in Minsk this Wednesday. Lukashenko reacted to sanctions from the West with his actions. The EU had imposed the punitive measures against the power apparatus in Minsk for, among other things, human rights violations and the suppression of dissenters.
Maas for sanctions
The acting foreign minister, Heiko Maas, spoke out in favor of sanctions against anyone involved in the smuggling of refugees to Belarus. “Nobody should be allowed to take part in Lukashenko’s inhumane activities with impunity,” said the SPD politician. This applies to countries of origin and transit, but also to airlines that enable people to be transported to Belarus. The European Union is ready to “draw clear conclusions here”.
The SPD politician also spoke out in favor of further direct EU sanctions against Belarus. “Lukashenko has to realize that his calculation is not working out. Incidentally, that does not rule out extending the sanctions to other areas of the economy in the future. According to diplomats, the permanent representatives of the governments of the EU countries want to launch an expansion of sanctions this Wednesday. They could be decided at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.
“Lukashenko goes on a confrontation”
The Belarusian political scientist Valery Karbelevich told the dpa that Lukashenko is not only taking revenge for the sanctions. “The escalation at the border, there has never been such a large number of migrants there, is primarily intended to draw international attention to the problem,” said the 66-year-old. “Lukashenko consciously goes to confrontation.” In this way, he not only distracts from the domestic political situation in Belarus, but also pulls the country, which is largely isolated from the West, onto the international stage.
Lukashenko is demonstrating European politics that act indecisively and have been watching the migration problem for months, the independent expert said. “Lukashenko thinks that there are weaklings in the West, so they just take such revenge for the sanctions. Perhaps they can be persuaded to negotiate, which would mean recognition as a conversation partner for him, ”said Karbelevitsch. The EU has not recognized Lukashenko as president since the controversial presidential election last year.
Gysi warns of escalation
Meanwhile, the left’s external expert Gregor Gysi warned of a military escalation. “A military solution should not be considered for a second because it meant that Russia felt itself more and more surrounded by NATO and, for this reason alone, intervened directly or indirectly. Then we have a world warlike conflict that neither side can afford, ”said Gysi to the editorial network Germany (RND). You definitely need a different relationship with Russia, Belarus’ strongest ally, in order to change the situation. Gysi warned: “We have to go back to Willy Brandt: Change through rapprochement.”
The Central Council of Yazidis in Germany called for the refugees to be accepted into the EU. “The situation of the people is explosive, the nights are dangerously cold, there is a lack of food and medicine. The EU must not seal itself off now, ”said Irfan Ortac, deputy chairman of the Central Council of Yazidis in Germany, the newspapers of the Funke media group. According to the Central Council, several hundred Yazidis are currently holding out at the border. dpa