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EU backs Iraq-Belarus flight suspension

August 11, 2021 at 9:20 am

A view of the Erbil International Airport in Iraq on February 16, 2021 [Yunus Keleş / Anadolu Agency]

The European Union yesterday welcomed Iraqi authorities’ decision to suspend outbound flights to Belarus amid a surge in the number of irregular migrants using it to enter Lithuania.

Peter Stano, the spokesman for the EU’s foreign affairs and security policy, told reporters that the Iraqi decision was made after “a series of diplomatic pressure and conversations between Brussels and Baghdad.”

“We hope that the situation will stabilize when it comes to the flights between Baghdad and Minsk,” Stano added, stressing that the commission was “quite concerned that Iraqi partners are aware how important this issue is for the EU.”

Some 4,000 immigrants, mostly Iraqis, were reported to have arrived in Lithuania via Belarus since the beginning of 2021. The influx is seen by the EU as a retaliation by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for EU sanctions over his government’s crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement.

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