A phone call between the Executive Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko about the refugee crisis on the border with Poland led to differences of opinion between the future governing parties. While the Greens criticized Merkel, she received approval from the SPD and FDP. The telephone conversation was a “devastating signal”, criticized the leading foreign politician of the Greens in the Bundestag, Omid Nouripour, on Tuesday on Deutschlandfunk. In doing so, she de facto recognized Lukashenko.
Merkel had phoned the ruler in Minsk on Monday for the first time since the presidential election in August 2020, which the European Union believed was fake. The Chancellor spoke with “Mr. Lukashenko” about the difficult situation on the border between Belarus and the European Union, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. Neither the EU nor the US recognize Lukashenko as president. He is accused of smuggling people from Iraq and other countries to Poland in revenge for EU sanctions.
Seibert gave no information about the results of the 50-minute long conversation, according to Minsk. It was said “in particular about the need for humanitarian aid for the refugees and migrants located there”. It was agreed to “continue the exchange on these issues”.
The SPD supported Merkel’s approach particularly clearly. “It is right to talk because Lukashenko is the one who caused the refugee crisis,” said SPD foreign policy expert Nils Schmid Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The most important thing is that the locks stop and the Belarusian regime stop blackmailing,” he said. Admittedly, Schmid admitted that if you talk to “such people” there is always the risk that they will use it as a propaganda success. Nevertheless, one must try to move forward on the matter. “That’s the essence of foreign policy,” he said. It is important, however, “that free elections and the domestic political situation are also discussed”.
The FDP foreign politician Bijan Djir-Sarai also signaled approval. “The EU does not recognize Lukashenko as President. Nevertheless, this conversation can be a real contribution in this complex exceptional situation,” he said. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt also defended the phone call. It is “necessary to seek diplomacy, especially in times of crisis,” he emphasized.
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński expressed skepticism about the international involvement in the crisis surrounding migrants on the Belarusian-Polish border. “You have to remember that internationalization is certainly necessary, but not in such a way that you talk over our heads, and such suggestions are made,” said the head of the national-conservative ruling party PiS on Tuesday on Poland’s public radio. If international efforts fail, Poland will have to reckon with a deepening of the crisis and “even greater audacity on the part of our opponents,” said Kaczyński.