De-escalation… The fate of the few thousand men, women and children trapped in the cold and destitution on the border between Belarus and Poland is now being treated in the light of a relative political thaw. After having been instrumentalized by the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, the migrants are held hostage to negotiations between the latter and European leaders. The European Union (EU) accuses Minsk of having organized since the summer their influx by the thousands to the borders of Poland and Lithuania in revenge for sanctions following the relentless repression since 2020 of the opposition. Brussels and Washington announced on November 15 that they wanted to expand punitive measures. “We agreed on the adoption of a new set of sanctions (…). It will be finalized in the coming days ”, clarified, at the end of a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the 27, the head of the diplomacy of the EU, Josep Borrell.
Angela Merkel has meanwhile entered the scene to open the discussion with Lukashenko. The result was not long in coming. The Belarusian president is showing his willingness to backtrack. He even plans to have the thousands of migrants encouraged to reach the border with Poland escorted back to their country of origin. “We share the same opinion that no one has an interest in the escalation of the situation, neither the European Union nor Belarus. We never wanted to go climbing ”, he declared the day after his interview with the Chancellor on the Telegram channel of his presidency. “The main thing today is to defend our country, our people and avoid clashes (…). This problem must not turn into a fiery confrontation. “
“People died around us”
Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, spoke Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, designated by the EU as the godfather of the Belarusian regime. The French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, says he sees “The first signals” of a de-escalation while calling to be ” very careful “. The families who have paid dearly, to smugglers among others, their transport to Belarus could well be massively turned away after having lived the ordeal of a face-to-face with the border guards in appalling conditions. ” I’ll never forget. People died around us, some drowned. Children were shivering… ”, testifies on Franceinfo a Syrian in his thirties returned to Lebanon after trying, unsuccessfully, to cross the border between Belarus and Poland.
In the meantime, the humanitarian emergency is still not on the agenda. The EU is especially busy showing its solidarity with Poland to lock down its border. Message received: Warsaw is considering building a wall. “ I hope that Europe does not use these events (…) to subsequently restrict the access of asylum seekers to its territory ”, wishes the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “In this case, we are only talking about a few hundred, or even a few thousand people, all of this is manageable”, he observes. A sermon in the desert.