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EU state to block access to border with Belarus

Warsaw has accused Minsk of allowing an uncontrolled flow of migrants to the Polish side

The Polish Interior Ministry has said it is planning to restrict access to some areas on the border with Belarus, as the number of Middle Eastern migrants trying to cross into the EU from the neighboring country continues to rise.

On Wednesday, the ministry published a draft resolution on the temporary closure of certain parts of the country’s northeastern Podlaskie province to the public for a period of 90 days. The restrictions, which are expected to come into force on June 4, will affect 27 settlements, according to the document.

In an explanatory note, the authors of the resolution said the move is necessary due to “the intensification of migration pressure” on the Polish-Belarusian border since the start of the year.

According to the note, organized groups of migrants have been trying to cross into Poland from the neighboring country since mid-2021. “This pressure was artificially created by the Belarusian authorities as part of hybrid actions aimed at destabilizing Poland and other EU member states,” it reads.

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The authors of the resolution said the restrictions on the presence of unauthorized persons near the border would help assure the security of Polish border guards, troops, and police who are being attacked by migrants as they try to breach the border fence. “Belarusian state services actively participate (covertly or openly) in attacks” on the servicemen, they claimed.

On Tuesday, a Polish soldier suffered life-threatening injuries after being stabbed by a migrant through a fence on the border. Following the incident, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, “it was recommended to us that we should quickly restore the 200-meter buffer zone in this area.” A decision on the matter could be made by next week, Tusk announced on Wednesday.

The authorities in Minsk have denied accusations by Warsaw and the EU that they are involved in channeling migrants to the Polish border.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that the “situation is being constantly escalated” around his country, describing the behavior of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine in the border areas as “rabid.”

READ MORE: Belarus reveals alleged plot to attack Minsk from EU

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Lukashenko claimed that the Polish authorities are deliberately looking for a confrontation with Minsk. He also accused Warsaw of throwing the bodies of dead migrants over the fence onto Belarusian territory.

May 30, 2024 at 09:12PM

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