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EU, NATO stand with Poland amid Belarus border crisis: president

19.11.2021 20:30
Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday thanked NATO and the European Union for their support amid an ongoing migrant crisis and voiced hope that Belarus would "soon cease its hybrid attack" on the Polish border.
Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) and his North Macedonian counterpart Stevo Pendarovski (R) meet with reporters in Skopje on Friday.
Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) and his North Macedonian counterpart Stevo Pendarovski (R) meet with reporters in Skopje on Friday. PAP/Abaca Husamedin Gina

Duda made the statement in the North Macedonian capital Skopje, where he met with the Balkan country's leaders, including his counterpart Stevo Pendarovski, Poland's PAP news agency reported. 

At a joint news conference afterwards, the Polish president said that in recent days he had spoken to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Lithuanian head of state, Gitanas Nausėda.

He said he was "pleased and grateful" that the NATO chief had taken "such a firm stance" on the border crisis.

Stoltenberg tweeted last week that "Belarus using migrants as a hybird tactic is unacceptable."

"NATO stands in solidarity with Poland and all our allies in the region," Stoltenberg also said at the time.

The Polish president told the Skopje news conference that his recent discussions with world leaders showed that "our thoughts, our knowledge and our views on this issue are the same: we are faced with a hybrid attack by the Belarusian regime against the external border of the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance."

"We hope that, thanks to the support we received from the European community and NATO, the Belarusian authorities will soon cease this hybrid assault on the Polish frontier," Duda stated.

Talks in North Macedonia

In Skopje, the Polish president held talks with Pendarovski as well as Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and top lawmaker Talat Xhaferi, Duda's office announced.

During the talks, Duda said that North Macedonia could count on Poland's "unwavering solidarity and support" as the Balkan country seeks to join the EU, according to the prezydent.pl website.

Also on Friday, Duda and Pendarovski attended a Polish-Macedonian Economic Forum, aides said.

The Polish head of state told reporters his visit proved that bilateral relations were vibrant and thanked his hosts for their "understanding and support" in the face of the border crisis.

On Thursday, the Polish president, accompanied by First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, met with North Macedonia's Polish diaspora, his office also said.

Friday was the last day of Duda's stay in the Balkans, a visit that began in Montenegro on Wednesday, news agencies reported.       

Migrant crisis

The months-long migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border has escalated in recent days, with Poland, the European Union and its member states, as well as NATO and the United States accusing Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the standoff in retaliation for Western sanctions against his regime.

Lukashenko has denied luring vulnerable people, including Kurds from the Middle East, with the false promise of easy access to the EU and sending them across the bloc's border.

Polish lawmakers on Wednesday backed a government plan to strengthen the country's borders amid the migrant crisis on its frontier with Belarus.

Prosecutors this week opened an investigation into an attack on Polish border guards, police officers and soldiers staged from across the border with Belarus by rock-throwing assailants, Poland's police chief told reporters.


Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info, prezydent.pl