Correspondent in Moscow
The first repatriation flight with immigrants illegals who tried unsuccessfully to penetrate Poland from Belarus departed this Thursday from Minsk bound for Baghdad. The Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, estimates the number of immigrants currently in his country at around 7,000, of whom he hopes to repatriate 5,000 and send 2,000 to Germany through a humanitarian corridor. All this is part of the measures that Lukashenko intends to promote to try to improve his relationship with the EU and get Brussels to lift sanctions.
The 2,000 immigrants that the Belarusian dictator wants Germany to host are, according to him, those who are now on the border with Poland. The other 5,000 Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni and Afghan citizens will be gradually sent to their respective countries, although Lukashenko has warned that “we will not evict anyone by force.”
All these details are part of the conversation that the first Belarusian leader had with the acting German Chancellor on Wednesday, Angela Merkel.
This was confirmed this Thursday by the spokesperson for the Belarusian Presidency, Natalia Eismont. In his words, “the European Union has been proposed to create a humanitarian corridor for 2,000 refugees who are currently in a camp in the area. We, for our part, will facilitate the return of the 5,000 remaining migrants to their places of origin.
Eismont, quoted by the state agency Belta, assures that Merkel agreed to transfer the offer to Brussels. “As you can see, we are ready to fulfill our commitments. For now, only about 400 refugees have agreed to return to their homeland. To be precise, 374 passengers, most of them Iraqis, have boarded a flight that left Minsk today, “he added, and promised to continue reporting as talks with Germany and the EU progress. He also specified that there are between 200 and 500 immigrants “scattered along the border.”
Criticism of Europeans
Lukashenko’s spokeswoman has not missed the opportunity to criticize the Europeans and said that “we keep our promises while the EU has not deigned to fulfill any of its obligations (…) they have not even started the talks at the expert level.” A spokesman for the European Commission said via Twitter that “there will be technical talks for repatriation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with Belarus.”
Lukashenko and Merkel, according to the Belta agency, agreed on Wednesday that Minsk and Brussels should enter into direct negotiations to enable an agreement to help solve the migration crisis. The High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, already spoke on Sunday with his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makei.
The first flight with immigrants who until now had been blocked on the border with Poland left this Thursday from the Belarusian capital to Baghdad with about 400 passengers. The Iraqi consul in Moscow, Majid al-Kilani, said that “Iraqis who wanted to, but have not been able to get from Belarus to Poland or Lithuania, are now returning home.” According to his statements, “for now, no additional flights are planned from Baghdad to pick up more Iraqi citizens in Minsk.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism