Political situation around the migration crisis was discussed with the chairman of the Standing Commission on the International Affairs of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Andrei Savinykh.
– The EU and the U.S. accuse Belarus of deliberately creating the situation with migrants as Minsk’s response to the sanctions. How would you retort to such accusations?
Andrei Savinykh: I believe that these accusations are totally unsubstantiated. Definitely, Minsk cannot influence the large European Union in such a way. In the first place, one should not forget that about 1-2 million people come to the EU every year as refugees. 2-3 thousand people in Belarus are a drop in the big inflow of migrants to the European Union. In reality, they do not have a significant impact on the overall situation. That is why rational people cannot believe that we can use migrants to put pressure on the EU. This is absolutely wrong.
But at the same time it is used as a certain trick to put political pressure on the Republic of Belarus, which in reality is a victim of this flow of migrants through our territory as a transit country.
– They say that Belarus facilitates the entry for migrants to help them get to Europe in order to press on the EU to lift sanctions.
Andrei Savinykh: Let’s not misinterpret the situation. Of course, it’s flattering to think that Belarus can influence people’s behavior in the Middle East. But that is too far from reality. I believe, in the actual circumstances, the groups engaged in organizations of migrant transit routes to the European Union have suddenly noticed new opportunities. They realized that the EU border on the Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish parts was no longer guarded as properly as it could be. For decades, these countries had received funding from Brussels to strengthen border security, but the money was wasted or stolen. And now traffickers decided to exploit the situation. This was the beginning of the migration crisis in our country.
– What measures have been taken by the Belarusian authorities to prevent an increase in the influx of refugees, especially from such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and other states?
Andrei Savinykh: In reality, we do quite a lot. In the first place, the only thing that we would not like to do at all is to limit the right of people from the Middle East to travel to our country in a legal way. Why? Because that would be a violation of human rights, a violation of the Geneva Convention, which says that each human being has the right to travel. This is very important. So we try to filter the tourist visa applications that come to our embassy. And we refuse to issue visas only, if there are legitimate reasons to doubt that a person is coming to our country for tourist purposes. At the airport we also thoroughly check the documents of people with a visa and especially of those who come to our country and get a visa at the airport. We have such procedures for citizens of certain countries in place.
In total, over the last 2-3 months we have refused the entry to Belarus to five thousand people, because we suspected that they might become illegal migrants.
We apply these measures all the time. At the same time, we give refugees, who are stuck at the border, an opportunity to apply to their embassies, that can identify them as citizens, and then we can help them return home. And we don’t create any barriers for them to fly back to their countries of origin.
– Some political circles in the West believe that Moscow, in coordination with Minsk, created the migration crisis in order to settle the score with the EU. How would you comment on this?
Andrei Savinykh: This is a typical propaganda trick. Moscow is in no way involved in the situation. Of course, they are ready to support the Republic of Belarus to solve the problem. But they are in no way involved in the situation in general. I think that the West is trying to blame others, although this is the result of the short-sighted and in fact criminal policy of the collective West towards many countries in the Middle East. They have created chaos there, destroyed the social infrastructure in many countries. They provoked the decline in living standards of many people around the world and throughout the Middle East. And now they are trying to shift the blame to somebody else. I think the crisis in the world is aggravating, and good principles of political correctness disappear. And now they start blaming Belarus, using cognitive technology and a blatant lie about the real situation.
– How long will this situation with migrants last and how long will they suffer? How can we prevent such a situation in the future?
Andrei Savinykh: To be honest, I am not very optimistic about this. The only solution for the future is as follows.
The West should stop interfering in the affairs of independent states in the Middle East and other developing countries. These countries should have the right to work and develop, create normal living conditions for their people. And this will be a sufficient foundation preventing people from trying to seek a better life, becoming migrants, and seeking refuge in rich Western countries.
This is a long way, of course. Yet, this is the only way. Nothing else can be suggested.
– In the last few days, there were telephone conversations between Angela Merkel and Alexander Lukashenko, between Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and his EU counterpart. Can we talk about any small steps towards normalization of the political situation around Belarus and solving the migration crisis?
Andrei Savinykh: Firstly, it is very difficult for the countries of old Europe to accept the brutal and straightforward behavior of the Polish authorities. Since such behavior undermines all European values and the political culture of the EU. In fact, it is destructive. This has to be understood. That is why Germany and Brussels are trying to find a way out. They want to stick to their standards and try to find solutions. Why? Because it is becoming more and more clear that the Polish authorities are violating all international standards. They infringe not only on the EU standards, but also on international standards and the UN treaties. And we are aware of the clear positions of the International Organization for Migration and other international organizations, including the European Court of Human Rights. Time clearly shows who is who. They are eager to find solutions, because the situation is getting more and more destructive to their reputation.
– A few days ago, Lukashenko asked Arab countries, particularly the UAE, for help. What kind of help can be provided in such a situation?
Andrei Savinykh: In the first place, I would like to state that
Belarus is not a part of this migration crisis.
We are not a source country for migrants, we are not a destination country for migrants. We are just a transit territory for these people on their way to the EU.
If they can’t reach their destinations, their countries of origin can help them return home to their home countries. They can also provide food for migrants stranded at the border. We welcome this kind of humanitarian assistance and a good human attitude. So, for our part, we do everything to help people, to create normal conditions for living. This is an aid to these people and not to Belarus that is in question. This is the main point of such assistance, which may come from other countries.
– What could be the best and the worst outcome of this situation?
Andrei Savinykh: The continued blocking of people by the Polish authorities will be the worst outcome, because winter is coming. The winter in Belarus is much harder than in the Balkans. It’s much colder, because the humidity is quite high. People can freeze to death. They have to be taken away from the border, they cannot survive in such conditions.
The best solution would be to open a humanitarian corridor so that they could get into the EU territory, perhaps Germany, so that they could apply for asylum and their applications were considered officially by the relevant authorities. This would be the most civilized approach and in line with the position that the EU declares.