Monday, October 18, 2021
Alleged illegal migration
Maas threatens sanctions against airlines
Foreign Minister Maas has again raised allegations against Lukashenko for ongoing illegal migration. The allegation is that he is smuggling people into EU countries by air. Germany is now threatening sanctions against participating airlines.
In view of the ongoing illegal migration via the ex-Soviet republic of Belarus, Germany and other EU states want to step up action against participating airlines. “We are no longer ready to see that there are also companies such as airlines that also earn money with it,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a meeting with counterparts in Luxembourg. You need sanctions with which you can make it clear that you are not ready to accept this behavior any longer.
Maas also raised serious allegations against the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko personally. “We are confronted in Europe with the fact that Lukashenko is using refugees as an instrument to put pressure on European states,” he said. He is “nothing more than the head of a state smuggling ring”.
Maas stood behind countries that accuse Lukashenko of taking revenge for EU sanctions by smuggling migrants from countries like Iraq or Afghanistan. The people are therefore brought by air to Minsk and from there to the border with the EU countries Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Germany is also already affected. According to the Federal Police, more than 4,300 people have entered the Federal Republic without permission on the new escape route via Belarus and Poland since August.
Possible consequences for European companies
New penalties could be taken against airlines, including companies based in the European Union. According to information from EU circles, the Belarusian airline Belavia has leased a large part of its aircraft in Ireland. If EU companies were forced to cease their business relations with Belavia, the airline would probably no longer be able to use the aircraft – but at the same time the leasing income would also collapse. Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was skeptical about this. He referred to existing contracts and possible legal difficulties.
The Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, however, spoke out in favor of the toughest possible approach. He called for punitive measures to be taken against travel agencies involved in the transport of migrants.