Flow of migrants to Belarus stemmed thanks to diplomacy, Polish PM says

Morawiecki on Tuesday attended a meeting of leaders of the Visegrad Group countries (V4) in Budapest, convened at his request to discuss the current geopolitical situation amid migratory pressure on the Polish-Belarusian border. Leszek Szymański/PAP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said that Poland’s diplomatic efforts have succeeded in reducing the flow of new migrants travelling to Belarus in the hope of entering the European Union.

Morawiecki on Tuesday attended a meeting of leaders of the Visegrad Group countries (V4) in Budapest, convened at his request to discuss the current geopolitical situation amid migratory pressure on the Polish-Belarusian border.

He told a press conference that the political crisis in which people are used by smugglers, mafias, in cooperation with Alexander Lukashenko's regime, is a way to exert pressure on the EU, create chaos and "constitute an element of the bloc's disintegration, which, according to Lukashenko, will best serve his goals."

But, Morawiecki added, "the diplomatic offensive from our side is already working."

He said that talks with his counterparts in Iraq, the autonomous region in Kurdistan, Turkey and the Middle East, and substantive cooperation with countries such as Uzbekistan, had brought positive effects and "today the influx of new migrants to Belarus is much smaller than at the peak... around a month ago."

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said it was very important for the European Union to help Poland. "The European Union is also our space, therefore defending integrity and territorial unity is very important to us... sanctions must be imposed as soon as possible on those airlines that engage in people smuggling," he said.

According to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, what is happening on the Polish border with Belarus "is absolutely unacceptable" and what the Lukashenko regime is doing "is beyond all limits."

He said that the President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, had recently written a letter to Polish President Andrzej Duda, proposing to send Czech soldiers to the Polish-Belarusian border, adding that if Poland asked for such aid, the Czech Republic was ready to provide it.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the EU had never before been under such migratory pressure but at the same time does not allocate funds for physical border defence.

"The EU has to pay for the EU's defence costs at the border. It is unacceptable that these costs are to be borne only by those countries that, due to history and geography, are simply on the EU border," Orban said.

The Visegrad Group is an informal regional format of cooperation between the four Central European countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.