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Poland accuses Turkey of fuelling migrant crisis in Eastern, Central Europe

November 11, 2021 at 9:32 pm

Irregular migrants continue to wait at the Polish-Belarusian border on November 10, 2021 in Belarus [Stringer – Anadolu Agency]

Poland has accused Turkey of cooperating with Russia and Belarus to enable the current migrant crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border.

In an emergency parliamentary session yesterday, Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said “We see that [Turkish actions] are fully synchronised with Belarus and Russia. It bothers us, we don’t like it.”

Over the past few months, migrants and refugees from a number of countries – mainly Syria and Iraq – have been mounting at Belarus’s border with Poland and other nearby states after being trafficked to Minsk by a consortium of smugglers and companies such as the sanctioned Syrian regime airline, Cham Wings.

The migrants were left in the capital and then transported by the authorities to its borders with neighbouring countries, where they were held, beaten, abused and, at times, forced to cross the border in harsh weather conditions.

Poland accuses Belarus’s government, under President Alexander Lukashenko, of attempting to cause a confrontation by using migrants and refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere to cross into European Union (EU) states, as a way of taking revenge for Western sanctions.

READ: How Belarus became gateway to the EU for Middle East migrants

While Morawiecki expressed his view that Russia is the mastermind of the crisis and Belarus is the culprit, he addressed a question regarding Turkey’s role. “A month or two ago, Turkey seemed to want to work closely with us. Our help in extinguishing the fire, our help in promoting the Turkish tourism industry, unfortunately turned out to be a one-way favour.”

EU officials have primarily blamed the Russian national carrier, Aeroflot, for the transportation of the migrants, but they also reportedly blame Turkish Airlines for helping in that crisis due to the fact that it conducts flights from Istanbul to Minsk.

In a statement on Tuesday, Turkish Airlines insisted that those accusations are baseless. “Our company makes sure to comply with all security precautions and sensibilities in cooperation with international authorities in all its flights operated to all corners of the world,” the statement read. From the end of October, the airline also cut down its weekly flights from Istanbul to Minsk from 14 to 10.

Yesterday, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, called his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau, to express his displeasure and sadness at the allegations. According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, Cavusoglu also “reminded his counterpart that the public opinion should be informed correctly and he extended an offer to bring technical teams from Poland to correctly inform the public.”

READ: Russia blames EU for looming migrant ‘catastrophe’, sends bombers to overfly Belarus