After engineering a humanitarian crisis along the Polish-Belarusian border, President Aleksandr Lukashenko has called on Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to help rectify the situation by taking in 2,000 migrants.
Belarusian press secretary Natallia Eismant announced Thursday that Lukashenko had offered to fly 5,000 migrants back to their home countries if Germany agreed to take in the remaining 2,000 migrants, most of whom are stuck at a holding facility not far from the Polish-Belarusian border, Junge Freiheit reports.
Despite Eismont having claimed the two heads of state reached an agreement during the phone call–and that “the EU would create a humanitarian corridor for 2,000 refugees”–German Interior Minister Horst Seehofter (CSU) made it clear that the federal government has not reached any kind agreement with Belarus to accept 2,000 migrants.
“The report is wrong,” Seehofter said Thursday evening during a press conference in Warsaw which followed a meeting with Poland’s interior minister Mariusz Kaminski.
“If we took in migrants, if we bowed to the pressure and said ‘we are taking refugees into European countries, then this would mean implementing the very basis of this perfidious strategy,” Seehofer said.
At the same time, Seehofer praised the Polish government’s efforts to repel organized migration movements from Belarus.
“What Poland is doing in this migration crisis is right and legitimate,” he continued. “We are talking about an irregular and perfidious migration which is being organized by Belarus with a degree of support from Russia. The Poles are not only following their own interests. They are also acting in the interests of the whole European Union.”
Previously, former Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) advocated for allowing migrants to enter the European Union in a one-off special humanitarian act.
“We need a quick, humanitarian solution for the desperate people who are abused by smugglers and who persevere at the border under unworthy conditions,” said Schäuble
“That means that we have to grant these people temporary entry into the EU and quickly carry out organized asylum procedures in order to clarify their permanent status and repatriate those who have not been politically persecuted,” he added.
Belarusian officials announced Wednesday that roughly1,000 migrants who had been camping in makeshift shelters along the Polish border had been bussed to nearby logistics centers where they’ll be sheltered. Border officials in Poland also confirmed on Wednesday that migrants who had previously been gathered on the Belarusian side of the border had started to leave.
On Thursday, some 400 Iraqis who had previously been stranded in Belarus arrived home in the Kurdish city of Erbil after being placed on voluntary repatriation flights, the Iraqi Ministry of Transport confirmed.
The Iraqi government continues to urge its citizens to come home, telling them that the European Union’s borders are shut.