Wednesday 17th November 2021
Warsaw warns of commitments
Merkel phoned Lukashenko again
While the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border eased, Chancellor Merkel telephoned the dictator from Minsk for the second time. Poland is upset and warns against commitments to Lukashenko. Warsaw will not recognize that.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko again because of the migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. This was announced by the Presidential Office of Belarus on Wednesday evening in the capital Minsk. Merkel and Lukashenko agreed that there should be talks between representatives of the EU and Belarus to solve the problem. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed the phone call. Merkel had called for “humanitarian care and return opportunities for the people affected” in cooperation with the UN and the EU Commission, Seibert said in Berlin. It was only on Monday that Merkel had a phone call with Lukashenko, which, according to Belarus, had lasted about 50 minutes.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda stressed in the afternoon that his country would not accept any agreements that would be made without his participation. He made this clear on Tuesday during his phone call with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Duda on Wednesday during a visit to Montenegro. “In short: Poland will not recognize any agreements that (..) are concluded over our heads.”
Poland: “Not a good step”
Duda said he had spoken to Steinmeier about the international mediation attempts. Above all, he is thinking of the talks that Chancellor Angela Merkel had had over the past few days. “We are a sovereign country that has the right to decide for itself. And we will exercise this right under all circumstances.”
Poland’s government spokesman Piotr Müller had previously said that Merkel’s phone call was “not a good step” because it was “in a way” the acceptance of Lukashenko’s election. The federal government defended Merkel’s decision. “She made this phone call in close coordination with the European Commission and, after having informed important partners in advance, also in the region,” said government spokesman Seibert.
The situation of migrants at the border is dramatic. “In order to improve this worrying humanitarian situation for thousands of people, it makes sense to speak to those who have the opportunity in Minsk to change this situation – even when it comes to a ruler whose legitimacy is Germany like all other Europeans Member states do not recognize. “
Migrants at the border are leaving
Merkel had called Lukashenko for the first time on Monday evening in view of the plight of the migrants. It was her first conversation with the ruler since the controversial presidential election on August 9th last year in Belarus. The EU no longer recognizes Lukashenko as president. The background to this is massive allegations of fraud in the election and the actions of the Belarusian security forces against peaceful demonstrators and civil society. Also on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron had a long phone call with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin about the role Russia could play in resolving the conflict. Putin spoke to Lukashenko on Tuesday.
Thousands of migrants have been stranded on the Belarusian-Polish border for days. The EU accuses Lukashenko of bringing refugees from crisis regions to the EU’s external border in an organized manner in order to put pressure on them. However, the situation at the border seems to be easing somewhat at the moment. According to Polish and Belarusian sources, the authorities in Belarus have started moving some of the migrants from the border to another location.