European politicians unanimously blamed the Belarusian regime for the migration crisis.
MEPs held a debate on the situation on the border of Belarus and Poland. Did the EU manage to maintain unity, why Lukashenko was called a "bandit," Putin - "puppeteer," and Merkel is considered naive - read in the report of dw.com.
The situation on the border between Belarus and the EU has somewhat lost its acuteness, however, the topic of the use of migrants by the regime of the Belarusian ruler Aliaksandr Lukashenka remains hot. While the European Commission, at its meeting on November 23, was preparing measures against companies involved in the smuggling of migrants, a debate was held in the European Parliament about the situation in Belarus and on its borders with the EU. The report informs now both MEPs and European Commissioners met in Strasbourg.
EU: Lukashenka is responsible for suffering at the border
"This is not a migration crisis. This is a big security threat. The strength of the borders of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia is being tested. But these are European borders, and the threat for one is a threat for all," said one of the deputy presidents of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, who has both participated in the debate and presented measures against migrant carriers.
According to the European Commission, this year, more than 7,500 people were able to get to Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia from the territory of Belarus. These are those whom the authorities of these countries have registered. More than 40 thousand attempts to cross the EU borders have been prevented. According to European officials, there are now about 15 thousand migrants in Belarus, among them more than 2,000 are at the borders of the European Union.
"These people are being sold a lie, a fantasy, the illusion of a quick flight via Istanbul or Dubai, via Minsk to Germany or Central Europe. But it's not that simple. They are buying a ticket not to Europe but the icy forests," said the Commissioner.
"This situation has brought a lot of suffering," said Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar, who represented the EU Council, which Ljubljana presides over this six months. He recalled that several migrants were killed, many are in appalling conditions, and several Polish law enforcement officers ended up in a hospital after clashes with migrants. The Slovenian Foreign Minister stressed that "Mr. Lukashenka and his regime" are responsible for this crisis.
Has Lukashenko managed to split the European Union?
According to Logar, Lukashenka "miscalculated in the end." "We welcome that the EU was able to maintain a united front in this situation," the minister added.
While the EU states do show unity, there has long been fierce debate among political parties over the migrant issue. German Social Democrat Birgit Sippel said that "international obligations, EU law and humanitarian responsibility" are also binding on the EU's external borders. "But none of this is respected by the Polish government, and, therefore, the European Commission should start a procedure because of the violation of EU treaties," said the Social Democrat.
Another German, Bernhard Zimniok from the populist faction Identity and Democracy objected to her: "Dear colleagues, while you repeat the same fakes about poor migrants like a mantra... migrants are attacking the Polish border to get into the welfare state of Germany. Nobody can be as grateful to Poland as we Germans."
And MEP from the "green" faction Tineke Strik refrained from blaming anyone within the EU but recalled the suffering of people stuck in Belarus. "Repatriation (of migrants - ed.) has ended the physical suffering for some of them, but many are still traumatized... And not all can return," she said, pointing out that Syrian and Afghan refugees need political asylum. “The refugees did not start this crisis. It was Lukashenka who started it,” Strik said.
MEPs support sanctions against Lukashenka
European politicians are unanimous that the Lukashenka regime is to blame for the crisis. MEPs from right-wing, centrist, and left-wing parties were in favor of strengthening sanctions against him.
Dane Nikolaj Villumsen from the "left" faction called on the EU to evacuate people stuck at the borders: "We need to deal with dictators like Lukashenka with the help of targeted sanctions and political pressure and not by forcing children to sleep in the deadly cold," he said.
“Lukashenka is not only a dictator oppressing his people and illegally holding on to power after rigged elections. He is also a bandit from the high road,” said Natalie Loiseau, a Frenchwoman from the liberal Renew Europe faction. She explained her words both by the forced landing of a Ryanair plane with the aim of "kidnapping the young blogger" Raman Pratasevich and by organizing the transportation of migrants from the Middle East. "A few months ago, Lukashenka said that will send us migrants, then drugs, and then the mafia. But the mafia is he and his accomplices in this incredibly cynical enterprise," added Loiseau.
Is Putin behind Lukashenka?
Some politicians in Europe believe that Lukashenka would not have gone for the organization of migration to the EU without the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ryszard Legutko of the European Conservatives and Reformists faction, a Pole, said that the borders of Poland and the Baltic states are threatened for the first time since the Iron Curtain. "This is a long shadow of Russia's neo-imperialist policy," Legutko said.
MEPs from other countries share similar views. "Every day Lukashenka is showing his real face more and more, the face of a tyrant, the face of a dictator receiving orders from another dictator," said Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a MEP from the European People's Party (EPP) from Spain. According to the Spaniard, Putin needs the events on the border with Belarus in order to divert the attention of the world community from building up his military presence near the borders with Ukraine. “Belarus is an excuse. And the goal is Ukraine,” said Gonzalez Pons.
German Viola von Cramon from the Green faction also sees Putin's hand in Lukashenka’s actions. At the same time, she criticized acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her calls to Lukashenka. "Those few here and in some capitals who are naive enough to legitimize Lukashenka with phone calls and who think Putin is not a puppeteer must realize that dictators understand only the language of harsh sanctions and punishment. Lukashenka should be brought before a tribunal," she called.
Moscow categorically denies any involvement in the situation on the border between Belarus and the EU countries.