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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

EU leader to visit Poland as migrant crisis worsens

10.11.2021 07:30
European Council President Charles Michel is on Wednesday expected to visit Warsaw for talks with Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as the country remains under migrant pressure from Belarus. 
Charles Michel
Charles MichelPAP/EPA/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL

Michel has called on the bloc to take action in the face of the migrant crisis, describing it as "a brutal, hybrid attack on EU borders," Poland's PAP news agency reported.

On Tuesday evening, his office confirmed the meeting with Morawiecki would take place in the Polish capital the next day at 11:30 a.m. 

Piotr Müller, the spokesman for the Polish government, on Tuesday said the two leaders would discuss "mainly the situation on the Polish-Belarusian frontier."

Müller added that the meeting would be part of "Poland's consultations with EU member states and institutions over the hybrid threat from Belarus."

On Monday, the Polish prime minister held a video conference with his Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts on the situation on the bloc's eastern border, news outlets reported. 

Müller said on Tuesday the Polish government was "pleased that the EU Council president is visiting," calling Michel's trip "an expression of the bloc's solidarity," according to PAP.

Michel tweeted on Monday that Minsk must abide by international law, adding that "the EU will not accept any attempt to instrumentalise migrants for political purposes."

Meanwhile, Morawiecki told parliament on Tuesday that Poland would press for fresh sanctions against the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the next EU summit, PAP reported. 

He added that the bloc could bar more Minsk officials from entering the EU, as well as impose new economic sanctions.

Morawiecki also said he would suggest to Michel that airlines which transport migrants to Belarus be banned from the bloc's skies.

Morawiecki told lawmakers the migrant crisis was the most serious security risk facing Poland in decades, PAP reported.

Polish border guards, police and soldiers on Monday thwarted several attempts by migrants to force their way into the country via Belarus, government officials said, as the border crisis escalated.

EU, NATO, US condemn Belarus

The United States on Monday voiced concern over "disturbing images and reports" from the Polish-Belarusian border, and condemned Belarus for "orchestrating" migrants flows to Europe.

NATO condemned the use of migrants by Belarus "as a hybrid tactic," with its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg voicing solidarity with Poland amid the border standoff.

Meanwhile, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen called for EU member states to approve new sanctions against Belarus, which she said was responsible for a "hybrid attack" on the Polish border using migrants.

The European Union has accused Belarus of encouraging thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa to cross into EU countries via Belarus, as a form of hybrid warfare in revenge for Western sanctions on Minsk over human rights abuses, the Reuters news agency reported.

Poland and the Baltic states have accused Belarus's strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko of organising a wave of illegal migrants seeking to enter the bloc as part of what officials have called a "hybrid war."

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, visited Poland in late September, agreeing with Warsaw’s arguments that “firm steps” were needed against Belarus, according to officials.

Poland's Morawiecki said last month that his country enjoyed full support within the European Union as it worked to defend itself against a migrant influx and a "hybrid war" being waged by Belarus.

In late September, Polish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to extend a state of emergency in parts of two regions along the country's eastern 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