France backs Poland over Belarus but says EU dispute is not over

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France on Wednesday assured Poland of EU support in its standoff with Belarus, but reminded Warsaw that it needed to resolve a row with the bloc over its values ​​and the rule of law.

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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called on European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen as part of a diplomatic effort to rally support for a strong reaction to an attempt by Belarus to use migrants to destabilize the European Union. met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Reaffirming his solidarity with Poland, Macron reiterated concerns over the rule of law and “calls on the Polish government to find a solution that protects the core values ​​of the EU,” his office said.

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With thousands of people fleeing the Middle East and other hotspots stranded along the EU’s eastern border, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are on the front lines of a crisis engineered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to the EU.

He has denied EU allegations that Belarus has sent migrants into the country and then pushed them across EU borders.

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At the same time, Brussels is locked in a long-running dispute with Warsaw over the independence of Poland’s judiciary, freedom of the press and LGBT rights.

The dispute came to the fore in October when a Polish court ruling called into question the supremacy of EU law, which was seen as a challenge to the unity of the bloc in Brussels and fueled fears that Poland would eventually can leave.

Morawiecki is due to meet German acting Chancellor Angela Merkel and her potential successor Olaf Scholz on Thursday, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydyk said: “The prime minister is now talking to EU leaders, to President Macron of Paris, to maintain EU unity … and be prepared for further action.” Reuters,

Warsaw says the number of migrants at the border has fallen, with repeated attempts to cross the border showed that Minsk had not abandoned plans to use the migrants as weapons.

Moraviki said he discussed potentially tightening sanctions against Belarus with Macron, whose office said he reaffirmed his desire to keep pressure on Lukashenko.

Exiled Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya called on the EU to do more to isolate Lukashenko and keep economic sanctions imposed in July strong.

“Let us stand firm,” she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “We must not allow lobbyists to block necessary sanctions. Let us close all remaining loopholes.”

The European Union imposed sanctions on Belarus after Lukashenko’s violent crackdown in protest against his controversial re-election last year. Diplomats say the latest package of sanctions sanctioned in response to the border crisis should be approved and adopted in early December, with a working deadline of December 2.

As the Polish Border Guard reported more attempts by migrants to make their way across the border, Warsaw’s concern, shared by its neighbours, is that months-long tensions could escalate into a widespread, regional conflict. .

Ukraine, which says it fears getting into trouble and has accused Russia of stockpiling its troops nearby, said it had launched a campaign to strengthen its border, including anti-tank and also included military exercises for airborne units.

While the international community blames Lukashenko for instigating the crisis, human rights activists say Poland has contributed to the suffering of migrants by its actions.

Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday that Poland shared responsibility for the dire circumstances with Belarus.

It cited cases of migrants separated from family members taken for medical treatment or who made it across the border simply without being able to apply for asylum.

“Men, women and children have been ping-pong across the border for days or weeks in cold weather, desperately in need of humanitarian aid from both sides,” said Lidia Gall, senior researcher in Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch. which is being blocked.” said in a statement.

Reuters

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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