Brussels, Nov 15 (EFE).- The European Union on Monday agreed on further sanctions against Belarus to target individuals and entities accused of aiding illegal border crossings into EU territory.
The EU has accused the regime of Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating a build-up of thousands of migrants along Belarus’ border with Poland, an EU member, amid daily reports of attempted border breaches.
Lukashenko denies the accusations, describing them as “foolish.”
This ramping up of sanctions was built on existing measures the EU drew up last year in the wake of controversial presidential elections, which Brussels dismissed as fraudulent, and the subsequent crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said: “Today’s decision reflects the determination by the European Union to stand up to the instrumentalization of migrants for political purposes.
“We are pushing back on this inhuman and illegal practice. At the same time, we continue to underline the unacceptable ongoing repression by the regime against its own population at home, and we will respond accordingly.”
He told reporters in Brussels that efforts to prevent flights from bringing more people from the Middle East to Minsk, from where they are allegedly escorted by Belarusian authorities to the borders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, had almost been accomplished.
Belarusian airline Belavia on Sunday said the United Arab Emirates would block some passengers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria from traveling to Minsk following a similar move by Turkey.
Currently there are a total of 166 Belarusian individuals and 15 entities under EU sanctions, including president Lukashenko and his son, Viktor Lukashenko, who is a national security advisor.
Belarusian airlines were in June banned from flying over EU airspace in June after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania to ground in order to detain a dissident journalist and his girlfriend. EFE