European Union member states in the central and eastern parts of the continent are calling on Brussels to finance border barriers and fences.
The tense situation on the EU-Belarus border is driving more EU politicians to support border barriers and fences, saying that the EU Commission should approve financing for their construction. In the midst of the bloc’s crippling migrant crisis in 2015, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was the first to suggest such a radical physical solution.
Mr Orban was on his own at the time, and then-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker quickly disregarded his search.
Mr Juncker criticised Greece’s proposal for a wall on its border with Turkey five years ago, stating, “No fence and no wall is high enough to deter these people from coming to Europe.”
Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed Juncker’s view last month when Lithuania demanded that the EU build a border wall with Belarus.
“There will be no funding of barbed wire and walls,” she stated.
However, EPP President Manfred Weber, the head of the European Parliament’s biggest party, went against the Commission chairman and backed Lithuania’s requests.
“We, as EPP, we are also asking that in an extraordinary situation, EU funds must be available to finance these kinds of activities,” he stated.
The Socialists and Democrats, the Parliament’s second-largest party, are, on the other hand, adamantly opposed to the proposal.
In October, a group of 12 EU nations, headed by Lithuania, called on the Commission in a letter to finance barriers “as a matter of priority.”
Poland, which is now dealing with the highest migrant arrivals on its border with Belarus, found unusual allies in Denmark thats run by socialists.
Despite Hungary’s opposition to a mandated redistribution of asylum seekers throughout the EU, Greece also signed the letter.
On the other hand, France opposes the concept of the EU funding member states’ border policy.
“I am in favour of a Europe that protects its borders, but not a Europe that puts up barbed wire or walls,” French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune stated this week.
Diplomats anticipate the new centre-left government in Germany to oppose the notion as well.
Europe accuses Belarus of bringing in tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and pressuring them to enter the EU, which has been in conflict with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko since a disputed election last year.
Belarus, which denies being the source of the issue, removed a migrant camp near the border on Thursday and began repatriating some refugees to Iraq. However, Poland alleged on Friday that Minsk was still transporting hundreds of migrants to the border.
“Yesterday … there were several attempts to forcefully cross the border.”
“The largest group consisted of about 200 foreigners, the others of 10s of people. The foreigners were aggressive – they threw stones, firecrackers and used teargas,” said the Border Guard who issued a statement on Twitter last Saturday.
Belarusian personnel hurled stones at Polish border guards, police officers, and soldiers during a crossing attempt in the region of Starzyna on Friday, causing damage to police vehicles, according to Polish police.
On Friday, the Polish Border Guard reported 195 attempts to cross the border, down from 250 the day before and 501 the day before. At the same time, Warsaw cautioned that the migrant crisis was far from finished.
Despite a decrease in the number of attempted border crossings, Polish authorities foresee further conflicts.
On Twitter, Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesperson for Poland’s security services, wrote: “No, this political crisis is not coming to an end. Belarus is still interested in escalating and continuing operations against Poland.”
According to a government spokesperson, on Sunday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will go to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to address the problem.