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EU state could close border with Russian ally – FM

Warsaw must make sure the move would hurt Belarus rather than Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski has said

Poland is considering fully closing its border with Belarus due to an influx of Middle Eastern migrants, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said.

Two crossings out of six on the border between the two countries currently remain operational, one of which lets through trucks and the other passenger vehicles.

When asked about the possibility of shutting both of these crossings as well during an interview with the broadcaster TVN24 on Saturday, Sikorski said that the government in Warsaw is “currently examining what consequences this would have on our economy and local communities.” 

He noted that Finland had closed its border with Russia, which led to a decrease in the flow of asylum seekers. Helsinki did so last November after more than 1,300 migrants, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, had made their way into Finland from Russia during a four-month period.

Poland will decide about shutting the border with Belarus after thoroughly analyzing its possible effects, “so that [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko feels those effects, not us,” the foreign minister explained.

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Sikorski reiterated Warsaw’s claims that the intensification of the migrant flow into Poland since the start of the year “is a fully controlled operation by the Russian and Belarusian security services.” 

The diplomat accused Belarusian operatives of instructing asylum seekers about how to attack Polish border guards, saying that this was “shocking” and “completely unacceptable.” In late May, a Polish soldier succumbed to his injuries after being stabbed by a migrant through a fence erected on the border by Warsaw.

Officials in Minsk have repeatedly denied accusations by Poland and the EU that they channel migrants to the Polish border.

Belarusian MP and leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party Oleg Gaidukevich told the local BELTA news agency that closing the border would be a purely “PR decision.” “It will not solve a single problem, but will only aggravate everything and further worsen our relations,” he added.

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Gaidukevich believes Poland would be hit harder than Belarus by such a move. Warsaw has already “destroyed the Polish border business” and complicated freedom of movement between the two countries, he stressed. Now, the Polish government is speaking about shutting down the remaining border crossings “in order to shift all responsibility for the problems in Poland onto someone else,” the MP insisted.

June 23, 2024 at 05:10PM

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