Poland’s president urges EU to stop Belarus migrant ‘push’

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Poland’s president said on Thursday that the EU must take “specific action” to prevent Belarus from “pushing” migrants across its border into Polish territory.

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President Andrzej Duda did not specify what those actions might be, but said he was looking forward to assistance beyond what FRONTEX, the border agency of the 27-member bloc, is already providing on the ground.

“I believe and hope that … the EU will take specific action to get the Belarusian authorities to change their stance,” Duda said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Anastasiades in Nicosia.

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Thousands of migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa have been taken to Belarus on tourist visas and encouraged to cross into Poland, Lithuania and to a lesser extent Latvia – all three EU countries bordering Belarus .

Recently many people died of exhaustion as they tried to reach Poland through a region of forests and swamps.

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Duda said the situation at Poland’s border with Belarus was “totally contrary” to international law and accused the Belarusian authorities of “irresponsible” behaviour.

Duda said Poland was acting to prevent the situation from turning into a continent-wide crisis and that EU countries could “relax” that Warsaw would protect the bloc’s external borders.

On Wednesday, Belarus’s exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanovskaya warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” that she said was being created by the Belarusian regime to facilitate mass migration to the European Union.

Poland has taken a tough stance to secure its border, saying it must defend its national security in the face of a “hybrid war” attack by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, which officials said was a ruckus for the Belarusian opposition. Warsaw was supported.

Anastasiades said the EU is united in its condemnation of turning migrants into a political instrument and urged measures against countries that do so.

The Cypriot government has accused Turkey of deliberately sending migrants to Cyprus through the Turkish Cypriot north of the ethnically divided island nation. Officials say Cyprus has the highest number of asylum applications relative to its population among all other EU members.

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Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Cyprus

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