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Belarus says EU rejecting talks on border

11 November 2021, MVT 15:22
A picture taken on November 10, 2021 shows migrants warming themselves by a bonfire in a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region. - Hundreds of desperate migrants are trapped in freezing temperatures on the border and the presence of troops from both sides has raised fears of a confrontation. -- Photo: Ramil Naibulin/ BELTA / AFP
11 November 2021, MVT 15:22

Belarus on Thursday blamed the migrant crisis on its border on the European Union and accused the bloc of rejecting talks on measures to reinforce the frontier.

"We would be interested in the crisis being resolved as quickly as possible," Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti in an interview.

Makei pointed to the EU's decision last year to stop financing projects in Belarus to reinforce border infrastructure and build shelters for illegal migrants.

The move came as Western countries imposed a series of sanctions on Belarus over a heavy crackdown on the opposition.

In response Minsk suspended its Readmission Agreement with Brussels, which required Belarus to take back migrants who crossed its territory into the EU.

"We offered to the European Union to hold consultations on this matter, but were rebuffed," Makei said.

"Since then, we have proposed to start a dialogue on this matter numerous times, but have not received a positive answer."

Migrants have been trying to cross the Belarus-Poland border for months but the crisis reached a new level when hundreds made a concerted effort this week and were pushed back by Polish borders guards.

Western governments accuse Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko of luring them to his country and sending them to cross into EU member Poland in retaliation for the sanctions.

Poland has accused Minsk of "state terrorism" for using intimidation to force migrants to breach the border.

Belarus has in turn accused Poland of violating international norms by blocking the migrants and beating them back with violence.

Caught in between, the migrants -- who are mainly from the Middle East -- are stuck in freezing conditions.

Minsk and ally Moscow have blamed Western military interventions there for provoking the migrant crisis.

Makei said in the interview that the crisis was the result of "the European Union's thoughtless policy related to the destruction of the statehood in a number of countries."

He said that Belarus would undertake "the most decisive measures" to prevent conflict on the border.


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