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22 November 2021, 17:52

Lukashenko: Why do I have to stop the people travelling to the UK or Germany?

MINSK, 22 November (BelTA) – The Belarusian side is not going to detain the refugees, who legally enter the country and are now intent on travelling to the European Union. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement in an interview with the BBC on 19 November, BelTA has learned.

The head of state reminded that Belarus and the European Union signed a readmission agreement in 2020. The sides had been working towards signing the agreement for a long time, a great deal of work had been done. “Because readmission cannot work in one direction. We had to come to terms with Russia and Russia had to come to terms with you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko explained. “If your refugees came from Belarus, you returned them to us but you had to build or finance the construction of centers for these refugees in Belarus. Work began.”

However, after the presidential election in Belarus in August 2020 the European Union started enforcing sanctions against Belarus and stopped honoring its commitments as part of the readmission agreement. “By introducing sanctions against Belarus, you terminated the readmission agreement, you stopped building facilities for the refugees. And back then I said: ‘Guys, good bye due to the sanctions and your refusal to work on the refugees and migrants.' Why do I have to stop them at the border if they are going to the UK or Germany? I am not going to stop them at the border and hold them at the border. Let me repeat it: I will no longer stop them if they are travelling via Belarus. Because they don't come to me but to you. That's the idea. I didn't call for them to come here and frankly speaking, I don't want them to go via Belarus,” he noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that Belarus is just one of the routes the refugees use to reach the European Union. Larger numbers of migrants reach the European Union via the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkan countries.

The president asked the reporter: “Can you tell me, please, why you don't complain about refugees: 600 people have recently come from France and you have a conflict. And [France President Emmanuel] Macron threatened to turn off electricity on some British islands of yours. Why don't you tell that to the people?”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also reminded about what happened seven years ago: Belarus welcomed 160,000 refugees from Ukraine after armed hostilities began in Donbass in 2014. “We gave them all the rights that Belarusians had back then: free education, free healthcare, jobs, and so on and so forth. Why didn't the European Union, the UK, and America complain about me then? Because it was the normal way. It was good. They didn't rush into the European Union although some did while 160,000 went to me. And I welcomed them like my own. In this situation thousands of refugees want to go to you,” he remarked.

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