Europe is cutting off the flow of migrants through Belarus even further than it already was. Transport companies or travel organizations that are still cooperating in this human smuggling risk losing licenses, access to the European market and landing or overflight rights.
“Anyone who wants to indulge in such practices will have to think for a while afterwards,” said Vice-President Margaritis Schinas in a debate with the European Parliament. “Attempts to destabilize Europe by using people as weapons will not work,” said Commission President von der Leyen. The new measures, which apply to all land, sea or air transport, complement Schinas’s tour of governments in countries of origin and transit to urge them to stop flights to Belarus as much as possible.
The response has been great, according to the Greek. ,,Europe counts on its friends, and it turns out we have a lot of them. We can now make the return of migrants (from Belarus to their country of origin) a priority.” Europe is also working on a sixth sanctions package to further increase pressure on Lukashenko and other perpetrators of human trafficking. He must stop the supply flights, provide assistance to those who are already there and cooperate with return, according to Schinas.
Europe’s involvement does not stop there. The Commission also decided today to allocate an additional 200 million to help Poland, Latvia and Lithuania – all three neighboring countries of Belarus – with their border security. Aid through NGOs will also be expanded further.
In response to questions, Schinas once again emphatically stated that the European money for ‘robust border security’ may be used for vehicles, cameras and other technology, but not – as von der Leyen stated earlier – for walls or barbed wire. The pressure to do so has been increasing since Council President Charles Michel spoke out in favor of it.
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