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Polish interior minister, EU commissioner agree 'firm steps' needed against Belarus: officials

01.10.2021 09:00
The Polish interior minister and the European commissioner for home affairs have agreed that firm steps need to be taken in response to a growing migrant crisis on Poland's border with Belarus, news agencies have reported, citing officials.
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński (pictured) and EU Home-Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson agreed that firm steps must be taken against Belarus.
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński (pictured) and EU Home-Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson agreed that firm steps must be taken against Belarus. PAP/Paweł Supernak

Poland's Mariusz Kamiński and the EU's Ylva Johansson held two hours of talks at Warsaw’s Okęcie airport on Thursday, a meeting during which the Polish interior minister briefed the European commissioner on the current situation on the frontier, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He also told Johansson how Poland was protecting the bloc’s outer border against "hybrid attacks" by the regime of Belarus' strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, according to officials.

Kamiński later told reporters in parliament that the conversation “was very interesting” and that he "exchanged a lot of information" with Johansson.

"I believe much of this information was new to Commissioner Johansson,” he said.

“We also agreed to keep in contact so we can continue to work with the European Commission, which is our important partner,” he added. 

Kamiński wrote on Twitter that he and Johansson had agreed that "Belarus’ actions must be met with a firm response from member states.” 

He also said he had assured Johansson that “Poland is providing international protection to people whose life and health are in danger, such as Belarusians persecuted by the Lukashenko regime or the 1,300 refugees airlifted out of Afghanistan.”

Kamiński added he had told Johansson that Warsaw was working closely with the EU’s border agency, Frontex.

Meanwhile, the Polish interior ministry said in a statement that Johansson had emphasised that “member states have a right and an obligation to protect their frontiers, which represent the outside frontier of the EU.”

Ahead of the meeting, Johansson told a news conference in Brussels that the “necessary firm response” to Lukashenko must be transparent and in line with EU regulations and European values, the PAP news agency reported.

Johansson has previously said the standoff between Poland and Belarus "is not a migration issue, but part of the aggression" by Belarus' Lukashenko "toward Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, with the aim to destabilize" the European Union.

Meanwhile, Poland’s permanent representative to the EU, Andrzej Sadoś, told his counterparts from fellow member states this week that Poland was effectively protecting the border amid mounting migrant pressures engineered by Minsk, according to the Polish state news agency.

Sadoś was quoted as saying on Wednesday that a "migrant trail" created “by Belarus and probably Russia” could be used for an uncontrolled influx of people into the EU.

According to the PAP news agency, this statement met with full support from the European Commission as well as the Netherlands, Lithuania and Greece, among other EU member states, with the Dutch and Austrian governments also reporting substantial increases in the number of illegal migrants.    

Poland and fellow EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have accused Belarus' Lukashenko of organising a wave of illegal migrants seeking to enter the bloc as part of what officials have called a "hybrid war."

Polish lawmakers late on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to extend a state of emergency in parts of two regions along the border with Belarus by two months amid a growing migrant surge.

The state of emergency gives authorities broader powers to monitor and control the movement of people on the Polish-Belarusian border, which is also the eastern border of the European Union.

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP