EU confirms 'technical talks' with Belarus on migrants

AFP , Wednesday 17 Nov 2021

The European Commission confirmed Wednesday that it will hold "technical talks" with Belarus on how to repatriate migrants seeking to cross the Polish border.

Migration Belarus Poland
Polish servicemen are seen on the other side of barbed wire fence at the checkpoint Kuznitsa at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. AP

The European Union has not recognised President Alexander Lukashenko's regime, which earlier announced the talks as a diplomatic breakthrough in its stand-off with Brussels.

But EU spokesman Eric Mamer said the contacts would be limited to discussions with Belarus and UN agencies on how best to get the migrants back to their countries of origin.

"Belarus must grant access for humanitarian support and provide shelter for migrants in the country," Mamer tweeted.

"The EU Commission will hold technical talks with UNHCR, IOM and Belarus on repatriations," he said, referring to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.

Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, are camped at the Belarus-Poland border, allegedly lured there by Lukashenko's regime in revenge for EU sanctions slapped on his autocratic regime.

Lukashenko and his main ally Russian President Vladimir Putin have rejected the accusations and criticised Brussels for not taking in the migrants who are seeking to cross over into EU member Poland.

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