Belarus says it does not want confrontation and hopes that the EU will receive immigrants Reuters

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© Reuters. File photo: November 21, 2021, outside the transportation and logistics center near the Belarus-Poland border in the Grodno region of Belarus, an immigrant woman leaves the tent with her child. Reuters/Kacper Pempel

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Authors: Kacper Pempel and Alan Charlish

Bruges, Belarus/Warsaw (Reuters)-President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday that Belarus does not seek to confront Poland but wants the EU to receive the 2,000 immigrants stranded at its borders, adding that if the crisis worsens ” Too much, war is inevitable”.

The EU accused Belarus of flying thousands of people from the Middle East and forcing them to enter the EU through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed on Minsk because Lukashenko suppressed protests against its controversial re-election last year. Activity. .

Lukashenko denied inciting an immigration crisis, but on Monday EU countries, including Germany, once again rejected his call for them to accept immigration at the border.

Polish Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki said on Sunday that the crisis could be a prelude to “worse things”, and the Polish border guards said that the Belarusian army was still transporting migrants to the border.

The state-owned Berta News Agency quoted Lukashenko as saying that he did not want things to escalate.

“We need to reach out to Poles, every Poles, to show them that we are not barbarians and we don’t want confrontation. We don’t need it. Because we understand that if we go too far, war is inevitable,” he Say.

“This will be a disaster. We fully understand this. We don’t want an outbreak of any kind.”

‘unacceptable’

The plan proposed by Belarus last week will require EU countries, especially Germany, to accept about 2,000 immigrants, while Minsk will send another 5,000 immigrants back home. Lukashenko said that Belarus is preparing for the second immigrant repatriation flight at the end of this month. .

Faced with the rejections of Germany and the European Commission, Lukashenko said on Monday that he must insist that Germany, the preferred destination of many immigrants, accept some of them. He said that the European Union did not engage with Minsk on this issue.

“They don’t even look at (the problem). Even what she (German Chancellor Angela Merkel) promised me-contact. They didn’t even get in touch.”

But a spokesperson for the German government reiterated Berlin’s refusal.

The spokesperson said: “The idea of ​​establishing a humanitarian corridor to Germany for 2,000 migrants is not an acceptable solution for Germany or the EU.”

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schellenberg said at a press conference: “The EU must not succumb to Lukashenko’s extortion. We must unite and respond very clearly to this kind of state-backed hybrid attack on the EU.”

The Polish Border Guard said that on Sunday, a group of about 150 migrants tried to break through the border fence near the Polish village of Dubitzerkiye.

Threatened to cut the train link

Poland threatened to cut off the train connection with Belarus if the situation did not improve. Lukashenko was quoted as saying that this threat may backfire.

He said that in this case, railway traffic may be diverted through the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.

“It was Mr. Lukashenko and the Belarusian regime that caused the entire problem at the border… What happens next depends on Mr. Lukashenko,” said Marcin Przydac, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland. “The EU…can find a way to trade with Eastern European and Asian partners without Belarus.”

The Polish Institute of Economics (PIE) stated that since exports account for 70% of its GDP, closing the border to train freight will be more costly for Belarus.

A spokesperson for the Polish government said that no decision has been made on the shutdown, although the option is already on the table.

Humanitarian agencies said that as many as 13 migrants died at the border, and many people suffered in the cold and humid forest. With the cold winter approaching, food and water were scarce.

Poland said that although the main immigration camps along the barbed wire border were cleared last week, the Belarusian army is still transporting migrants to the border. Many immigrants are now placed in Belarusian warehouses near the border.

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