BRUXELLS – New EU sanctions against those responsible for the tragic exploitation of migrants, deceived and pushed to the borders with the EU by the Belarusian regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko, while in the meantime the pressures to send humanitarian aid and to repatriate people stranded in front of the barbed wire of the Polish border are beginning to have the first results. The Ministers of the Twenty-Seven spoke about it at the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which took place yesterday in Brussels, and which the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy reported tonight at a press conference. Josep Borrell.
«We started – said Borrell – with an issue that is on everyone’s mind, Belarus. In Belarus, we continue to face hybrid aggression against the borders of the European Union. We study all possible options to dissuade the Lukashenko regime from attacking us and attacking its own population ”.
“We have decided – continued the High Representative – to broaden the scope of our sanctioning regime against Belarus. From today we will be able to sanction more people on the basis of their activity for the organization of these flights from different countries to Belarus, and beyond to the borders of the EU ».
«At the same time – he added -, we have agreed to adopt a new package of sanctions, the fifth, which will then be finalized over the next few days. It will concern an important number, not yet specified, of persons and entities. However, politically, the decision was adopted. By extending the sanctions we will be able to hit those who are responsible for the exploitation of vulnerable migrants and to encourage illegal crossing to the EU ».
To prepare for today’s meeting, Borrell spoke yesterday on the phone with Polish foreign ministers, Zbigniew Rau, Lithuanian Gabrielius Landsbergis, and also with Belarusian Vladimir Makei, as well as with the UN Secretary General António Guterres.
With Makei, he said, “I repeated the appeal to Minsk to stop bringing people to our borders, keeping them in the border area, putting their lives at risk and pushing them to try to enter the EU. The borders of the European Union – he warned – are not open without limits. Access is only possible with legitimate border crossings that comply with EU requirements, with visas, or through asylum procedures; and any information that says anything else is wrong, and it’s pure misinformation. “
«The road to the European Union – continued Borrell – does not pass through Belarus; and our delegations around the world, especially those in the countries most concerned, are providing information to avoid people being exploited, people treated as weapons, deceived and turned into tools with political objectives. This is illegal and inhumane. And the people who have been trapped in this deplorable system must be provided with the necessary assistance. This is one of the reasons for my conversation with Makei and also with the UN secretary general ».
«The responsibility for what is happening – the High Representative pointed out again – is 100% of Belarus. We can begin to solve this problem by stopping the flow of people; and those already in Belarus must be provided with humanitarian assistance. And – he pointed out – those who cannot obtain refugee status must return to their countries of origin. We have seen that the Iraqi authorities are organizing emergency repatriation flights for those who want to return, and we welcome this decision ”.
“This – Borrell noted – is a crisis that has been artificially created, and should not distract from the internal situation of Belarus, with the continuous large-scale violation of human rights”. With Minsk “dialogue will be restored not by importing people at our borders, but when the regime ceases violence and begins to respect the human rights of its own population and of other people abroad”.
«I am not aware – a journalist said later answering the question – of the secret discussions between the Russian president Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko, but it is clear that Lukashenko is doing what he is doing because he has the support of Russia, even if Moscow says it has nothing to do with it. It is clear when the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov he talks about the events in Belarus, and he takes it out on me and the Europeans for what is happening. Frankly, I really don’t think Lukashenko can do what he is doing without strong support from Russia, ”he repeated.
“If there is or not – he added – a connection with the movements of Russian troops along the borders with Ukraine, I honestly cannot know, and I don’t want to give a judgment or a trial to the intentions. It is true that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blink, was in Kiev and issued a strong warning. If he says what he says he will have his reasons for doing so. ‘
Finally, Borrell reported that Belarus could now allow UN and humanitarian organizations access to migrants in difficulty at the Polish border. “The goal of my phone call to Mekei yesterday was to make sure I had all the necessary information before talking to my colleagues today. Before speaking with the UN secretary general, I wanted to know exactly what Belarus’s attitude was, regarding the situation of humanitarian aid and the repatriation flights of those who are blocked at the borders ».
“I asked – said the High Representative – frankly what the situation is, if Belarus wants to give humanitarian aid, or if it will allow it to be provided to these people, what it intends to do with them. They are people who cannot come to the European Union, but they cannot even freeze to death at its borders ”. The Belarusian minister «has assured me that he will provide support, that he will accept the access of United Nations organizations to help refugees. But – concluded Borrell – he has declined all responsibility for the fact that these people are there ».
(with source Askanews)
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