‘To cross. Come on, ”Lukashenko says to migrants at the Polish border – .

‘To cross. Come on, ”Lukashenko says to migrants at the Polish border – .

  • Lukashenko says he will not force migrants to return home
  • Two flights with return migrants arrive in Iraq
  • Two more flights scheduled for November 26 and 27
  • Poland reports unrest in detention center

BRUZGI, Belarus / MOSCOW, November 26 (Reuters) – Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko told migrants stranded at the border with Poland on Friday that his country would help them return home if they wanted but not force them.

Thousands of migrants are stranded at the European Union’s eastern border, in what the EU says is a crisis in Minsk conceived by distributing Belarusian visas in the Middle East, bringing them in by plane and pushing them to across the border.

But Lukashenko said it was the EU that deliberately caused a humanitarian crisis that needed to be addressed and he told migrants he would not play politics with their plight.

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In his first public appearance at the border since the start of the crisis, Lukashenko met migrants in a warehouse turned into a shelter and told them they were free to head west or return home to their homes. as you wish.

An Iraqi teenager told Lukashenko that she cannot return home and hopes to continue in Europe. “We are not just going to hope,” Lukashenko replied. “We will work together on your dream. “

Lukashenko said no one would be forced.

“If you want to go west, we won’t arrest you, suffocate you, beat you,” he said to the applause of hundreds of migrants. ” It’s up to you to decide. Pass. Go on. “

He added, “We will not arrest you, tie your hands or load you on planes to send you home if you do not want to.” “


Poland and other EU countries say crisis is part of ‘hybrid war’ Minsk is waging in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed in response to crushing Lukashenko protests against his contested re-election last year and is designed to destabilize the bloc.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses migrants as he visits the Bruzgi Transport and Logistics Center on the Belarusian-Polish border in Grodno region, Belarus, November 26, 2021. REUTERS / Kacper Pempel

The EU has agreed to new sanctions in response to the border crisis, which diplomats in Brussels say are expected to be approved and adopted in early December.

Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which are bearing the brunt of the crisis, have deployed thousands of border guards, soldiers and police to seal the border and push back migrants attempting to cross Belarus.

Lithuania said on Friday it could close its border posts if more migrants attempt to cross from Belarus in trucks.

Belarus has started repatriating some migrants, but said it was awaiting a response from the EU to its request that Germany accept 2,000 stranded migrants at the border, which the EU has rejected and Germany has denied having accepted it.

On Friday, two planes brought hundreds of Iraqis from Belarus to Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region.

Two more flights were expected on November 26 and 27, the TASS news agency reported.

Warsaw said the repatriation of migrants marked a change in tactics rather than a genuine attempt at de-escalation and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, on tour to European capitals this week to rally support for a firm response, raised the possibility further sanctions if the crisis escalated.

Poland and Lithuania continue to report crossing attempts by increasingly desperate migrants with the onset of winter conditions. Polish authorities have also reported disturbances in one of the detention centers set up for migrants entering the country.

The problem has exacerbated conflicts between Russia and the EU, whose ties have been at their lowest since the Cold War since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea to Ukraine in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who helped Lukashenko overcome mass street protests after last year’s elections, has also supported Belarus in its most recent clash with the EU.

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Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Kacper Pempel, Pawel Florkiewicz; Azad Lashkari and Andrius Sytas, written by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Mark Trevelyan and Tomasz Janowski; edited by Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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