President warns Belarus may bring Afghan migrants to Polish border
The Polish president has warned that Afghan migrants may appear on the Polish border if the Belarusian authorities, which have orchestrated the current crisis on the frontier, decide to create another one by bringing more migrants by air from Afghanistan.
"The migration crisis on the border with Belarus has been generated by the authorities of that state," Andrzej Duda told reporters in Budapest on Monday, where he had attended a meeting of the presidents of the Visegrad Group countries (V4).
"If the (Belarusian - PAP) authorities want to generate a similar crisis using air connections with Afghanistan, they will surely cause it," the president said, adding that the risk was feasible.
However, the president expressed his conviction that, if the Belarusian regime continued to act in this way, it would meet with a strong response from the international community and, above all, from the European Union.
Duda stated that such practices could only be stopped by a tough system of sanctions.
Duda made the statement when asked by a Hungarian reporter if the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was likely to create a lasting migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Speaking on the same subject in Warsaw later on Monday, government spokesman Piotr Mueller said that Poland "has been identifying a risk of larger-scale migration from Afghanistan through the Belarusian and Russian channels."
"Such a scenario seems probable, and it may mean more movements on the Polish border with Belarus," he said after a meeting of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki with representatives of Sejm, lower house, caucuses and clubs.
Mueller added that (Belarusian President - PAP) "Alexander Lukashenko has been sending signals to Europe that he is ready to launch such a migration channel."
Poland has been struggling to stem a wave of migrants trying to cross its eastern border from Belarus. EU members accuse the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, of instigating the crisis in order to destabilise the bloc.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 37,000 attempts to illegally cross the Polish border from Belarus, including over 8,000 in November and nearly 17,300 in October.