Sunday 29 May 2022
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Belarus urges Europe: we can't wait much longer

Belarusian dissident Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has told the European Parliament that the Belarusian democratic movement cannot wait much longer for Europe. The opposition leader, who has fled abroad, said that 'European expressions of solidarity and concern must now be turned into concrete action', and that Europe must act more against autocracy.

Tsikhanouskaya also argued for greater solidarity between Europe and Belarusian democratic forces. “Let's not forget the Belarusian prisoners of conscience and let's help those who had to leave the country. Today, not only democracy in Belarus, but also democracy in Europe depends on whether we will walk this path together," she said.

EP chairman David Sassoli called Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya a symbol of the struggle for democracy and freedom, and a voice for many political prisoners currently held in Belarus.

The European Union threatens sanctions against transport companies and transporters that cooperate in human smuggling or human trafficking to the EU. As a result, airlines can be put on a European 'blacklist', and they can temporarily lose their landing rights.

In this way, the EU tries to put an end to the actions of President Lukashenko of Belarus. He is bringing large groups of refugees from the Middle East to allow them to enter the EU via its western neighbor Poland. Those refugees also illegally try to cross the border into Lithuania or Latvia.

This situation has led to inhumane conditions at the borders in recent weeks, with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania hastily erected large barbed wire barriers. Border posts were also closed.

That situation at the border of the EU with Belarus would not have been possible without the cooperation of transport companies. The European Commission announced to pay 200 million euros in financial aid to Poland and Lithuania. In addition, the Commission announced that it would shortly introduce emergency border security legislation.

In response to the crisis, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia introduced national legislation that would allow 'pushbacks', the illegal pushing back of asylum seekers. In a debate, GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik pointed out that virtually none of the refugees who managed to get to Poland has access to an asylum procedure.

According to Strik, the asylum seekers who now roam the forests on the Polish-Russian border should be given access to asylum procedures and humane reception. "This geopolitical crisis should not lead to the permanent closing of borders," she said.

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