Iraqi migrants will be shown the way back – Mir – Kommersant

The first successes have been outlined in the settlement of the migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border: on Thursday, the Iraqi authorities will remove at least 430 of their citizens from Minsk. Against this background, contacts of the Belarusian authorities with representatives of the EU countries continue: on Wednesday, a new telephone conversation took place between and. O. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. However, the very fact of bilateral contacts with Minsk was perceived ambiguously in the European Union. Warsaw accused Berlin of trying to settle the problem “over their heads”, and Vilnius warned about the risk of legitimizing the Belarusian authorities. The FRG government retorted: there is no talk of recognizing Alexander Lukashenko as president, but given the severity of the situation, it is necessary to talk with Minsk.

The diplomatic efforts of the European Union in the framework of negotiations with third countries to resolve the migration crisis began to bear the first fruits. On Thursday, the Iraqi authorities will voluntarily return at least 430 of their citizens from Belarus back to their homeland. Representative of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry Ahmed al-Sahaf said this on the air of the Al-Sumaria TV channel. The return home will be free for those who wish. The plane is expected to land first in Erbil (the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) and then at Baghdad airport.

We will remind, earlier, in the midst of the crisis, all flights to Belarus were canceled by the Syrian airline Cham Wings Airlines. Turkish Airlines and Belavia, at the request of the Turkish authorities, stopped accepting citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen flying from Turkey on flights. On Wednesday, the Polish side announced that Lebanon also sets restrictions for travelers on the Beirut-Minsk route: only some categories of passengers will be allowed on flights. Since November 17, Uzbekistan has also introduced a temporary ban on air transit to Belarus for citizens of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Libya.

Such results can definitely be considered a success in the framework of attempts to de-escalate. Meanwhile, there is no consensus in the international community regarding the negotiations between Angela Merkel and Alexander Lukashenko, which took place on Wednesday. “Chancellor Angela Merkel violates all EU principles by speaking independently with Minsk and Moscow. Her behavior is reminiscent of the worst moments in history, when the countries of Central Europe were treated as objects of political bargaining, “- outraged MEP, ex-Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo.

On the same day, Polish President Andrzej Duda warned that Warsaw does not recognize “any settlement of the situation on the border with Belarus, which has been reached over their heads”.

“We are a sovereign state with the right to make independent decisions, and we use this right in any situation,” he insisted.

In Vilnius, the dialogue with Minsk is also not considered expedient. Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Szimonyte on Wednesday in a telephone conversation with the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen emphasized that “a unified position of the EU on putting pressure” on the Belarusian authorities is needed. “Bilateral contacts are fraught with the risk of using them to legitimize (the Belarusian authorities – “B”). So far, in my opinion, more can be done by toughening the sanctions regime, ”said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielyus Landsbergis. This opinion is shared by the head of Estonian diplomacy, Eva-Maria Liimets. As the ERR portal writes, she noted on Wednesday that it would be appropriate to impose restrictions on the Belavia airline, allegedly responsible for the transfer of refugees, and the Minsk airport. The minister is confident that Alexander Lukashenko is seeking the lifting of sanctions and the official recognition of himself by the European leaders as a legitimate president in exchange for settling the migration crisis. The German tabloid Bild, citing sources, wrote that Alexander Lukashenko had allegedly demanded that Berlin recognize his legitimacy, as well as financial assistance for the republic.

Minsk hastened to assure that such conditions were not put forward, it would “be beneath the dignity” of the president. “Not a single word was said about sanctions, let alone some kind of“ recognition ”during the conversations,” Natalya Eismont, press secretary of the President of Belarus, told RIA Novosti. At the same time, the official representative of the German government, Steffen Seibert, confirmed: Berlin does not recognize the legitimacy of Alexander Lukashenko and supports tougher sanctions, but those “who in Minsk have the opportunity to change the situation” should be spoken about, given the “alarming humanitarian situation for thousands of people.” … In addition, he assured that the dialogue is being conducted in close coordination with the European Commission.

Let us remind you that the telephone conversation between Mrs. Merkel and Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday became the second in a week (the first took place on Monday). The results were announced in the evening by the Telegram channel “Pool of the First”, close to the press service of the Belarusian head of state.

  • At first, Minsk and Berlin agreed to bring the problem to the level of Belarus and the EU, appoint negotiators from both sides and immediately enter into negotiations.
  • Secondly, Belarus was informed of the request of the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the mandatory participation in the process of international organizations that deal with refugees and migrants.
  • Thirdly, Alexander Lukashenko and Angela Merkel agreed to maintain contacts in the future.

The European Commission has already confirmed that it will hold technical negotiations with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and Belarus on repatriation issues. In addition, the EU announced that it will allocate € 700,000 to help migrants at the border, of which € 200,000 will be transferred to the Belarusian branch of the Red Cross, and the rest of the funds will be distributed through other humanitarian organizations.

Aggravation on the Belarusian-Polish border has been observed for more than a week. Now from the side of Belarus there are several thousand migrants who are dispersed in three places. According to the Polish border guards, the day before the migrants set up another camp near the Bruzgi checkpoint, not far from the old one. In addition, many were accommodated at the Bruzgi logistics center on behalf of the Belarusian authorities. There are also problems at the Lithuanian border. On Wednesday, Lithuanian border guards released a video showing a group of migrants, accompanied by soldiers with machine guns. The Delfi newspaper reported that it is about 13 Iraqis who were forcibly brought by the Belarusian security forces to the Lithuanian border.

So far, no escalation has been observed on the border of Belarus with the Baltic countries. On Wednesday, the press secretary of the State Border Guard Service of the republic, Gedrius Mishutis, reported that groups of 30 and 50 refugees were at the border, but they did not break through to the republic by storm. The fact that the migrants did not try to cross the temporary barbed wire fence was also reported on Wednesday by the Latvian side. In turn, Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Kallas noted: the situation is “dangerous and alarming”, but there is no direct threat to the border yet.

Meanwhile, the countries bordering Belarus are taking new precautions. The Estonian government announced its intention to build a temporary barrier on the border with the Russian Federation, for which more than 1.6 thousand servicemen will be called up for additional training camps Okas-2021. The country’s Defense Ministry explained that this is being done “to prevent possible hybrid attacks on the borders of the EU and NATO.” Vilnius informed on Wednesday that the Lithuanian customs department has set up mobile control groups to help border guards. Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland also agreed to coordinate steps on security issues at the level of deputy foreign ministers.

Marina Kovalenko

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