For the past few months the government of Belarus has been inflicting a wave of Middle Eastern “refugees” on the European Union through the borders of Lithuania and Poland. The migrants are flown from Turkey or Baghdad to Minsk and then carried by bus or taxi to the borders of the EU. Poland has borne the brunt of this onslaught, and the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border has intensified since the beginning of November.
The following article features an interview with the Polish ambassador to Germany, Andrzej Przylebski. Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this piece from Junge Freiheit:
“Soon the first shot could be fired”
The situation in the border area between Poland and Belarus is worsening. Thousands of migrants are rushing west. But Poland will not give in, according to its ambassador Andrzej Przylebski. Unlike Germany in 2015, they will be tougher and not open the borders. Even if there are unsightly pictures.
Your Excellency, as far as you know, what is the current situation on the Polish border with Belarus?
Andrzej Przylebski: Very agitated. There are currently around 4,000 migrants standing at the border, mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq, and attacking our border guards with wooden blocks, spades and the like. They brought tents to sleep in. They brought equipment to break the border fence. All with the permission of the Belarusians.
There were several attacks during the night. Why is the situation coming to a head right now?
Przylebski: The situation is coming to a head because the Belarusian police and soldiers are barely letting people go back to Minsk. They force them to storm the Polish border. Belarusian soldiers have already aimed at our soldiers with weapons. The first shot could soon be fired.
“But we will be tougher than Germany”
Will Poland use tougher means to protect its borders against illegal immigrants?
Przylebski: I think so. There is no shooting, but we with full intention do not allow illegal migrants to cross the EU border. We want to set an example that the defense of the EU border, contrary to some German idealists, is possible.
Poland has declared a state of emergency for the border area and has already extended this measure once. According to the constitution, Poland cannot extend the state of emergency again. Are there any considerations to declare a state of war for the border area?
Przylebski: I haven’t heard anything about a state of war so far. I believe that this could only happen if we were attacked by “green men” (term for covert Russian, militarized forces in the Ukraine conflict, editor’s note), which will not happen. Belarus will not risk that because we could defend ourselves successfully. We have thousands of “territorials” (reserve forces, editor’s note) at our disposal.
Germany did not close its borders in 2015 because they were afraid of “unsightly” pictures. Is there such a concern in Poland too, and would that be a reason to open the border?
Przylebski: Yes, we also have such worries about journalists and the opposition. But we will be tougher than Germany was back then and will not be frightened by manipulated images. Yesterday, Polish television showed migrants blowing cigarette smoke into a child’s eyes to make him cry, then photographed him and send the photo around the world. The Gazeta Wyborcza, which is considered the Polish flagship newspaper in Germany, published this manipulated image as truth. As you can see, we have traitors in our own country.
“We consider this a hybrid war”
Does Poland feel sufficiently supported by the EU and Germany in repelling migration from Belarus?
Przylebski: With words yes, unfortunately not with deeds. In a conversation a week ago an important German politician promised me sanctions against the airlines that bring migrants to Belarus. It hasn’t happened yet. We would also like NATO soldiers (including the Germans) to help. The German interior minister recently hinted at such aid.
The most important thing, however, is to awaken an understanding here and throughout the EU that when this group crosses the border, the next will soon come. Because for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko this is both an opportunity for enrichment (each migrant pays around €10,000 for the trip to Minsk) and revenge against the EU for its support of the Belarusian opposition.
Is Lukashenko’s maneuver to deliberately bring migrants to the borders of another country, a form of hybrid warfare?
Przylebski: In Poland this is clearly interpreted as a hybrid war. Not against Poland, but against the West, in this case against the EU.
Does the current wave of migration only go back to Belarus’ ruler Lukashenko, or do you also hold Moscow partly responsible for it?
Przylebski: Of course Russia shares responsibility, because Lukashenko cannot do something like this without Putin’s consent. We hope, however, that the growing discontent of the Minsk people, who are now being flooded by migrants in their own city, will bring Lukashenko to his senses. But: further sanctions must follow — and quickly. Also against “Belavia”, the Belarusian airline, which, as I hear, has so far been allowed to fly unhindered over Germany.