Refugee crisis at the EU border: Syrian airline stops flights to Minsk

Refugee crisis at the EU border
Syrian airline stops flights to Minsk

“We cannot differentiate between travelers and migrants,” says the Syrian airline Cham Wings. The private airline is therefore stopping all flights to the Belarusian capital. Meanwhile, Putin wants to mediate between Belarus and the EU.

The private Syrian airline Cham Wings is suspending its flights to Belarus due to the current refugee crisis. The connection to Minsk will be discontinued with immediate effect because the airline “cannot distinguish between travelers and migrants,” said the airline. The EU accuses Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of luring people from countries like Syria and Iraq into the country in retaliation for EU sanctions and then smuggling them to the borders of the EU states Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

“Because of the difficult situation on the border between Belarus and Poland and because most of the travelers on our flights to Minsk are Syrian citizens, we have decided to discontinue our flights to Minsk,” said Cham Wings. Thousands of people, especially from the Middle East, are currently stuck in freezing temperatures in the border area between Belarus and Poland.

On Friday, the Turkish government banned people from Syria, Iraq and Yemen from traveling to Belarus. Turkish Airlines offers one of the most popular international connections to Minsk.

Putin as a mediator

In view of the tense situation on the EU’s external border, Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping for a direct dialogue between Germany and the authoritarian Belarus. “From conversations with Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko and Chancellor (Angela) Merkel, I understood that they are ready to speak to each other,” Putin said in an interview that was broadcast on Russian state television on Saturday.

Because of the migrant crisis, Merkel and Putin spoke on the phone several times. The Chancellor asked the Kremlin chief to intervene in the conflict. The Kremlin later announced that Moscow would seek a solution.

Regarding Putin’s proposal for a conversation between Merkel and Lukashenko, a spokesman for the German government said: “We generally provide information about phone calls after they have taken place.”

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