MINSK, 25 January (BelTA) – The migrant problem is far from being settled, and refugees keep trying to get to the EU countries via Belarus, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting with the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus in Minsk on 25 January, BelTA has learned.
"We are not provoking anyone here. If we spar over the migrant crisis, it does not mean that I bring them from Somalia. It would seem that the situation with refugees has been settled but it has not. People keep trying to reach the EU. They now go on foot. I warned the West that once the air route is closed, migrants would explore other ways. These are not yet crowds. But some people make their way. Every day. Last week (according to their data) up to 200 people were reported to cross the border into Poland, Lithuania, Latvia. Mainly to Poland," the head of state said.
He stressed that the problem will not go away until they come to deal with its root cause: “The responsibility to deal with the refugee crisis lies with those who killed refugees' families and ruined their countries. Unless they solve this problem, people will keep coming in all the time."
Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that refugees go not only via Belarus or via the Mediterranean Sea. "They explore the northern routes through Russia, Finland, and so on. They also go via Ukraine," the head of state said. “But they decided to scapegoat Belarus in the media. These provocations will continue."
The president recalled the damaging of the state symbols at the border and other provocations: "These would seem small provocations. But I will tell you as a former border guard myself that everything starts from small things. General Lappo [Chairman of the State Border Committee Anatoly Lappo] also spoke about this yesterday. Gradually such things lead to escalation."
Aleksandr Lukashenko once again noted that the EU has curtailed all border cooperation programs with Belarus though it had previously insisted on concluding a readmission agreement. "They begged us to sign this agreement. They wanted us to commit to take such people back. We took time to think as we had to come to an agreement with Russia and others," the president said. “We reached the agreement. They promised to build temporary accommodation facilities for refugees. Then they gave up on everything, stopped financial assistance, curtailed all cooperation with us on border issues. They are reaping what they have sown.”