German Minister Calls For EU To Take Action On Flow Of Migrants From Belarusby RFE/RL's Belarus Service · Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty · Join
Germany has urged the European Union to take action to help Poland secure its border with Belarus to stop the flow of migrants crossing illegally from the country.
"Poland or Germany can't handle this alone," caretaker Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told Bild newspaper in a story published on November 9.
"We must help the Polish government secure their external border. This would actually be the task of the European Commission. I'm now appealing to them to take action," he said.
There are currently around 3,000-4,000 migrants near the Belarusian border with Poland and thousands more are ready to follow them, Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller told reporters on November 8.
The Defense Ministry in Warsaw distributed a video that it said showed a group of migrants near the Bruzhi-Kuznica border crossing. Another video showed a large group of men and women escorted by armed men in military uniform.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak tweeted that more than 12,000 soldiers had been deployed on the border, up from the 10,000 soldiers that were there recently.
Blaszczak said that his ministry, together with the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for police and border guards, was "prepared to defend the Polish border."
The EU accuses Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka of flying migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk and then sending them into the bloc on foot in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Brussels over his regime's crackdown on the opposition.
Lukashenka denies the accusation.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on member states to impose new sanctions against Belarus over the migrant flows.
Von der Leyen spoke with the prime ministers of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia and afterward called on EU member states to "finally approve the extended sanctions regime on the Belarusian authorities responsible for this hybrid attack."
The EU will explore how to sanction, including through "blacklisting third country airlines that are active in human trafficking," she said.
Poland has already imposed a state of emergency at the border, put up razor wire, and increased the number of soldiers and guards. Lawmakers have also approved the building of a $407 million wall on its eastern border.
Seehofer told Bild he supported Poland's decision to build the border wall.
"We cannot criticize them...for protecting the EU's external borders," Seehofer said. "Not through the use of firearms of course, but with other means that are available."
Germany has seen a rise in migrants entering from Belarus via Poland in recent months, and Berlin has responded by stepping up border controls and deploying extra police officers.
Germany stands ready to offer police support to Poland, if Poland wishes, said Stephan Mayer, parliamentary state secretary in Germany's Interior Ministry.