EU unfreezes relations with Belarus, to help repatriate stranded migrants

Officially, the tone remains firm and the threat of sanctions is still agitated. “Europe is not facing a migratory crisis, but an attempt to destabilize by a totalitarian regime not recognized by the EU”, accused, Tuesday, November 23, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, before the Parliament of Strasbourg. Charles Michel, his counterpart on the Council, spoke of an inadmissible “Attempted intimidation” to describe the maneuver of the dictatorial regime in Minsk, which tried to force large numbers of migrants into the territory of the Twenty-Seven.

In fact, the attitude of the European Union towards the Belarusian regime, with which, in principle, it had closed all diplomatic channels, raises more and more questions.

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On Tuesday, the Commission insisted on the importance of the new provisions it adopted: a legal framework that would make it possible to sanction transport companies involved in migrant smuggling, such as the 7,698 which, according to a count established in Brussels, would be arrived in Belarus before being sent manu militari to the borders of the EU. That is 4,222 in Lithuania, 3,062 in Poland and 414 in Latvia. Some 40,000 people in total have attempted to leave Belarus since the start of the year, according to the Commission. The vast majority of Iraqis and Afghans, but also Belarusian citizens who tried to flee the dictatorship of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Exchanges in principle frozen

If approved by member states, the proposal presented on Tuesday will allow the Twenty-Seven to suspend or limit the operations of companies organizing the transport of individuals by land, sea or air, or even to ban them in the EU. “The majority of the company’s fleet [biélorusse] Belavia is made up of aircraft leased to companies in the Union, underlined Charles Michel. A decision will be made to put an end to it. It is imminent. “

These companies, mainly from the Gulf, Arab countries or Turkey, have in fact already been clearly identified. In theory, they could be prohibited from flying over the territory of the Union, the right of transit or stopover, or the right to provide services to, from, to, or within the Union. .

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Will this heavy weapon really be used, or is the caveat only valid for the future? “We first practiced soft diplomacy and companies are fully committed to fighting this trafficking. They are willing to stop the influx of people to Belarus ”, commented on Tuesday, the transport commissioner, Adina Valean. A statement that suggests that it is above all a form of appeasement that is sought.

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EU unfreezes relations with Belarus, to help repatriate stranded migrants