World, Europe

European Council chief hails Turkey's cooperation on Belarus migrant crisis

Head of European Council welcomes move by Turkish civil aviation body barring travel of Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis to Belarus

Agnes Szucs   | 12.11.2021
European Council chief hails Turkey's cooperation on Belarus migrant crisis

BRUSSELS

The president of the European Council thanked Turkish authorities on Friday for the country's support in tackling the migration crisis at the EU's borders with Belarus.

"Thank you to the Turkish Authorities and the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority for your support and cooperation," Charles Michel said on Twitter after Turkey's civilian aviation authority barred Iraqi, Syrian, and Yemeni nationals from traveling to Belarus from Turkish airports.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM) said earlier on Friday that the nationals of these three countries would not be permitted to buy tickets or board aircraft from Turkey to Belarus until further notice "due to the problem of illegal border crossings between the European Union and Belarus."

The decision came as tensions between Belarus and the EU reached an all-time high due to the migrant crisis on the country's border with Poland.

Poland and the EU have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of trying to retaliate against EU sanctions by deliberately inviting in and directing migrants towards the Polish border.

EU officials have reached out this week to a range of airlines and aviation authorities to ask for cooperation in stopping the migration crisis at the bloc's borders with Belarus.

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also started to organize trips to countries of origin and transit to raise awareness among authorities on the tactics of the Belarusian regime and to stop the flights to Belarus.

The EU accuses Minsk of reaching out to potential migrants via seemingly official channels including diplomatic representations or travel agencies offering them visas to Belarus and guiding them to the EU border once there.

NATO and the EU consider the country's behavior a "hybrid attack" meant to destabilize and undermine security in European countries through non-military means.

EU countries bordering Belarus -- Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland -- have been reporting a dramatically growing number of irregular crossings since August.

Several thousands of people, including women and children, were stranded at the Belarusian-Polish border area without shelter or food.

Over 8,000 people, mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, tried to enter the bloc via the Belarus-EU border so far this year, up sharply from just 150 last year, according to EU figures.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.