Talks initiated by the EU with airlines and transit nations about migrants massing at Belarus’s border with the bloc are starting to bring results in helping to ease the crisis, Germany said Friday.
“The talks are ongoing and today some indications show that we already have some success,” said a German foreign ministry spokeswoman, after Turkey banned citizens of Syria, Iraq and Yemen from flying from Turkish airports to Belarus.
Western governments accuse Alexander Lukashenko’s regime of luring migrants to Belarus and sending them to cross into Poland in retaliation for previous sanctions over Minsk’s crackdown on the opposition in the wake of a presidential election last year.
For months, migrants have been trying to cross from Belarus into EU member Poland, but the crisis reached a new level when hundreds made a concerted effort this week and were pushed back by Polish borders guards.
The EU has said it will impose new sanctions on Belarus over the crisis, on top of those already in place over the post-election crackdown.
The bloc has also threatened action against other countries or airlines that contribute to the crisis by transporting migrants to Belarus.
“No one should be allowed to participate in Lukashenko’s inhumane activities with impunity,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier this week, warning that “we as the EU are prepared to draw consequences here as well”.
Maas on Friday told the daily Rheinische Post that “all airlines must know” that if they take part in “criminal people smuggling” they risk consequences “including sanctions on overflight rights or landing permits”.