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What is Going On: Belarus-Polish Border

by Sena BALBAN

Freezing cold, lack of sleep, hunger and thirst. These are the difficult conditions from which the migrants at the Poland-Belarus border are suffering. From summer 2021 onwards, thousands of people, mostly from the Middle East with an overwhelming majority of men, are waiting at the border between Belarus and Poland in order to arrive in the European Union in which they hope to seek asylum. In recent years, the world faced different migration crises but this crisis has different aspects from the previous ones.

The current crisis is actually related to four countries which are Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia due to the fact that the migrants at the side of the border in Belarus want to arrive in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia and then move on to Germany as most of the migrants have family in Germany. How are these countries acting in this crisis? Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, has a really strict policy towards the migrants at the border. He wants the migrants to move across the border of Poland and arrive in the European Union as soon as possible. Therefore, Belarussian forces at the border are constantly putting pressure on migrants to cross over to the Polish side. On the other hand, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have declared a state of emergency. In the coming days, the European Commission will gather and propose a new financial offer for these three countries to the European Parliament. The reason behind this is that these three countries want to build walls along their borders in order to prevent the incoming migrants in large crowds from crossing the border.

According to politicians across the European Union, Lukashenko consciously maintains his attitude towards migrants as a response to the sanctions of the European Union on Belarus. In order to understand this claim properly, we should look back at what happened in Belarus last year and what caused the European Union to announce sanctions against Belarus.

Elections were held in Belarus last year. As a result of the elections it was declared that Lukashenko, known for his authoritarian regime, would be given a sixth term. However, many Belarussians didn’t accept the election outcome and organized protests. Not only the locals but also the European Union announced that they didn’t agree with the result of the election in Belarus. Therefore, Lukashenko, who took an even tougher stance to suppress protests in the country, faced sanctions from EU countries. The latest incident that angered the West before the EU imposed sanctions was the arrest of a journalist by the Belarussian Air Force who forced a jet which was flying to Lithuania from Greece to land.

After the sanctions were put into effect, Lukashenko also took action against the European Union. Western officials claimed that at first Lukashenko purposefully allowed thousands of migrants inside Belarus and directed them to the country’s border with Poland. Moreover, some people think that the government collaborated with some tourism agents to help the migrants from the Middle East to come to Belarus easily by enabling them quicker visa applications. Today, according to information from EU diplomats, the EU plans to impose new sanctions against Belarus which include imposing sanctions on airlines carrying passengers to the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

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