Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki Wednesday accused Belarus of “state terrorism” regarding the migrant crisis at the border between the two nations.
Morawiecki made the comments to reporters during a joint news conference in Warsaw with European Council President Charles Michel, who came to Poland to show European Union support for Poland on the migrant situation
Poland and the EU accuse the government of Belarus President Alexander Lukeshenko of “weaponizing” migrants – largely from Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan – by inviting them to enter Belarus and shepherding them to the Polish border, sometimes by force.
Polish troops have clashed several times with the migrants as they attempted to force their way across the border. Polish security officials have said there could be as many as 12,000 migrants in Belarus camped near the Polish frontier.
At the news conference, Morawiecki said he believes the actions at the border are Lukeshenko’s “quiet revenge” because Poland, along with other EU member nations, supported sanctions the bloc imposed earlier this year against Belarus for human rights violations. Lukshenko’s government cracked down on opposition protests and journalists following last year’s contested presidential elections.
Michel called Belarus’s actions regarding the situation at the border a “hybrid, brutal, violent and undignified attack,” and said the EU is considering a firm, unilateral response, most immediately in the form of additional sanctions.
He said the EU is looking at blocking Belarusian airlines – which have brought some of the immigrants into the country – as well as imposing other economic sanctions, discussed at a meeting of the European Council.
Meanwhile, during a news conference in Moscow Wednesday, Belarus’ Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei called the accusations against his country absolutely groundless. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed the EU for escalating the situation and called for direct talks between the two sides.
Russia is Belarus’ closest ally in the region.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.