Polish Government Calls for State of Emergency at Belarus Border
The Polish government wants to declare a state of emergency in two regions on the border with neighbouring Belarus. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of a “crisis situation” at the border, where authorities say many migrants are trying to enter the European Union.
Poland already started building a 180-kilometre fence last week to stop the influx of migrants. This means that approximately half of the forested border area between the countries must be closed. The authorities also sent thousands of military personnel to the border to support border guards.
The state of emergency gives authorities more powers, among other things, to restrict people’s freedom of movement. President Andrzej Duda has yet to approve the government’s request, but he is not expected to backfire.
In recent months, thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have tried to enter the EU from Belarus. Authorities in Poland and the Baltic states believe that the regime of Belarusian leader Lukashenko is encouraging illegal migration to destabilize neighbouring countries.
Lukashenko had been at loggerheads with the European Union since his controversial reelection last year. The EU has imposed sanctions on Belarus. Another sore point in the relationship between Warsaw and Minsk is that Poland has taken in refugee Belarusian top athlete Kristina Tsimanoeskaja.