The role of the EU in the face of the Lukashenko regime

Following the opinion piece On the usefulness of borders by Christian Rioux, published on November 19, we are obliged to respond. We share the opinion of the author who considers that the crisis on the border between Poland and Belarus “consists in destabilizing European countries to take revenge for the sanctions taken against Belarus”. However, to claim that the EU has abandoned its member states is both incorrect and biased.

From the start of Lukashenko’s hybrid operation at the EU border last summer, the European Union offered assistance to Lithuania and Poland through the European Frontex agencies and the European Office of asylum support (EASO), to ensure border protection and asylum procedures. EU leaders have publicly offered their personal support to the countries concerned. For example, earlier this month, European Council President Charles Michel visited Warsaw as a sign of solidarity and support. In fact, from the start, the EU played a key role in putting an end to the actions of the Lukashenko regime, a fact unfortunately omitted by the author. Thanks to the EU’s diplomatic efforts at the highest level, including engagement with countries of origin and transit, several flights to Minsk were interrupted, and stranded people were repatriated. And thanks to the sanctions announced against the regime, the EU has further broadened its response to also target those involved in human trafficking. Even more, the EU has announced € 700,000 in humanitarian aid for vulnerable people stranded at the border, including € 200,000 in emergency aid via the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies . We hold The duty in high esteem. We were very surprised to read such incorrect information in your post.

Columnist’s response

No one denies that the European Union has taken last-minute measures to help Poland. It was moreover the least of things whereas Warsaw, it, mobilized 25,000 men and gigantic resources. In fact, here it is Poland to be thanked for having repelled an invasion which was heading towards Germany. Many analysts did not wait for this confrontation to qualify Frontex as a poultice on a wooden leg. Tuesday evening, even former European Commissioner Michel Barnier argued that with barely 10,000 border guards, this agency was turning the EU’s borders into a sieve. Straddling border protection and humanitarian rescue, it is thus participating in a vast abuse of the right to asylum. Let us not forget that in yielding since 2015 to the blackmail of the Turkish autocrat, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it was Brussels which prepared the ground for Lukashenko. This, none of the temporary and one-off measures you mention can erase it.

Christian Rioux

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