“It is Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is responsible for the situation in which the deceived people are stuck between the external border of the EU and Belarus,” the European Commission spokesman for international affairs, Peter Stano, announced on Thursday at a press conference in Brussels.
“I would like to point out that the people stuck between the external border of the Union and the Belarusian border are in a situation caused by Mr Lukashenka. The person who claims to be the president of Belarus. But he has no legitimacy for that. He organised unfair elections and not only continues to persecute its citizens, but also uses the plight of migrants as a tool for political pressure against the EU. This is unacceptable,” Mr Stano said.
“No matter how difficult the situation of the poor people who are stuck between the EU border and Belarus is, it is the result of Lukashenka’s actions. In a cowardly and inhumane way he uses them and deceives them to come to Belarus and try to get to the EU. The European Union says very clearly it does not accept the exploitation of people for political purposes. But that is exactly what Mr. Lukashenka is doing,” he added.
The spokesman also assured that EU diplomacy is in contact with the countries of origin of migrants, trying to solve this problem and prevent their further instrumentalisation.
Since spring, there has been a sharp increase in the number of attempts to illegally cross the border by migrants from the Middle East, Africa and other regions on the border of Belarus with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
The EU and its member states believe that this is the result of deliberate action by Belarus in response to the sanctions. Minsk denies accusations of triggering a migration crisis, claiming that following Western restrictions, “it has neither the resources nor the strength” to stop illegal migration.