Germany calls on EU to help stem flow of Belarusian migrants
Germany on Tuesday urged the European Union to “take action” and help stem the flow of migrants entering Poland illegally from Belarus.
“Poland or Germany cannot handle this alone,” Interim Home Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild daily, urging the EU to “stand together”.
“We have to help the Polish government to secure its external border. That would actually be the task of the European Commission. I now call on them to take action,” he said.
The appeal came after Poland said it had repelled an attempt by hundreds of migrants to cross Belarus illegally.
Warsaw warned that thousands more were on the way and that future attempts to cross its border could be “armed in nature.”
AFP quoted Seehofer as saying he supported Poland’s decision to build a border wall.
“We cannot criticize them (…) for protecting the EU’s external borders,” Seehofer told Bild. “Not by the use of firearms of course, but by other means available.”
The EU accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of transporting migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk and then sending them on foot to the bloc in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Brussels following the crackdown on his regime against the opposition.
Lukashenko denies the accusation.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday called on member states to impose new sanctions on Belarus over migrant flows.
The use of “migrants for political purposes is unacceptable,” she said, adding that the EU would also consider how to sanction “third country airlines” carrying migrants to Belarus.
As a neighbor to Poland, Germany has seen a sharp increase in the number of migrants entering Belarus through Poland.
In October alone, the number rose to nearly 5,000, according to German authorities.
Berlin responded by stepping up border controls and deploying additional police officers.
Germany is ready to offer police support to Poland, said Stephan Mayer, parliamentary state secretary at the German interior ministry.
“Germany could very quickly send police forces to help Poland, if Poland wishes,” Mayer told the Bild newspaper.