Belarus: Lukashenko leaves stage following press conference
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Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP from Poland’s Law and Justice Party and a former Vice President of the European Parliament, was speaking at a time when Poland is appealing for help in the face of large numbers of people crossing the border from Belarus and the authoritarian rule of controversial President Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus found itself in the spotlight during the Olympic Games, when Belarussian sprinter Krystina Timanovskaya refused to board a flight back to her country, citing concerns over her personal safety after criticising her coaches on social media.
Mr Czarnecki told Express.co.uk of the immigration situation: “This is a problem not only for Poland, but also for other EU countries, especially Lithuania and Latvia.
“It concerns the eastern and north-eastern flank of the European Union.
“We expect the Union that apparently often brings up the topic of ‘European solidarity’, to support our three countries.
“Especially since the problem is growing: there were 700 percent more immigrants coming from Iraq and Afghanistan only in the first seven months of 2021 than in the entire year 2020!
“Therefore we expect decisive actions from Brussels as soon as possible.”
The escalating problem comes against a backdrop of increasingly fractious relations between Brussels and Warsaw over legal reforms which the EU claims represent a risk to judicial independence.
The bloc has therefore launched proceedings in accordance with Article 7 of its constitution, which in theory could theoretically see Poland lose its European Council voting rights unless it backs down. Hungary is subject to the same measures.
Mr Czarnecki said: “Poland and Finland have the longest sections of the eastern border of the EU.
“Immigrants from Asia that come from Belarus to Poland do not treat my country as the final destination: they want to settle down in Germany or the Netherlands.”
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Mr Czarnecki is firmly committed to his country’s ongoing membership of the EU – but warned: “Brussels should deal with real problems like migration policy, not with imaginary problems like the justice system in Poland.
“The EU’s behaviour on the latter issue has significantly increased the number of Eurosceptics and Eurorealists in my country.”
With respect to Belarus and 24-year-old Ms Timanovskaya, Mr Czarnecki said: “Poland wants Belarus to move towards the West, not towards Russia.
“Lukashenko plays with the immigrant card, and actually makes it easier to cross the border with Poland, Lithuania or Latvia.
“As for the athlete from Belarus, Poland, since the 15th century, offered asylum to all people from different parts of Europe – both East and the West.
“They were granted asylum, whether they were persecuted for political or religious reasons and we pride ourselves with that.
“But a border is a border and it must be respected.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday said it was monitoring the situation in Belarus closely, amid calls for the global lender to limit disbursement of new emergency reserves to the hardline government of Mr Lukashenko.
Spokesman Gerry Rice said the lender was keeping close tabs on the matter, but the IMF was guided in its actions by the international community, which “continues to deal with the current government in the country”.
Some US politicians have urged the IMF to set strict limits for Lukashenko’s ability to use nearly £720million in new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the IMF’s own reserve currency, which Belarus is slated to receive as part of a £470billion allocation to all IMF members later this month.
However, experts say as long as the IMF’s members continue to recognise the government of Lukashenko, the fund cannot take more forceful action.
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