Poland to build wall on border with Belarus

Warsaw is cracking down: after twelve states demanded more "physical barriers" on the EU's external borders, Poland's parliament has now approved 366 million euros for the reinforcement of its border with Belarus. Belarusian President Lukashenka has been accused of deliberately funneling migrants into the EU across its eastern border. Commentators discuss what this means for Poland, Belarus and the EU.

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Lukashenka has miscalculated

Building a wall won't help anyone, writes Gazeta Wyborcza:

“The refugee crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border will continue as long as Lukashenka finds it useful to put pressure on the West. ... Currently the dictator is seeing that his measures are not working. The sanctions are not being eased, and the Belarusians are furious that the closure of the borders (also with Lithuania and Latvia) is restricting their opportunities to leave the country, trade and do business. ... The border crisis will certainly not help prop up the regime but will instead strengthen the opposition and accelerate the dictator's bankruptcy. No regime lasts forever. Lukashenka will eventually go, but the wall on the border will remain.”

Do Rzeczy (PL) /

The wall can save lives

Insurmountable borders can be part of a humananitarian policy, DoRzeczy explains:

“The wall saves lives. ... Above all, a closed border that cannot be crossed 'randomly' will discourage potential immigrants from attempting to cross it. ... The regime, the smugglers, the Belarusian airline Belavia and Minsk airport will no longer make money. Putting an end to profits from smuggling means that fewer people will come to harm along the route. ... Is it inhumane to put up a wall separating ourselves from Belarus? Does that make Poland an inhumane country? No. Such accusations are part of the scenario outlined in Minsk.”

Ta Nea (GR) /

Respect international law

Ta Nea criticises the attitude of Athens and Nicosia:

“Of course the irrational demands of the twelve countries will not be accepted, as the Commissioner [for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson] clarified, noting that no mainstream EU country has signed the letter. Cyprus, on the other hand, which is among the signatories, wants to build a wall on the Green Line (separating the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus from the Turkish-occupied north), which is completely irrational. And Greece is on the side of the countries that oppose the system instead of the mainstream countries. The external borders of the EU must be effectively protected and should also be guaranteed, but not with measures that destroy the identity of the EU and violate international law.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

European solidarity is needed here

The refugee drama highlights once more the fact that no state can resolve the humanitarian challenge of migration on its own, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“Of course Lukashenka's behaviour is cynical and aims to radicalise people on the other side of the border. But Poland alone is not strong enough to show humanitarian compassion and political toughness in equal measures. The country needs the help of the other Europeans who could, for instance, jointly impose sanctions on the airlines functioning as traffickers or harm Lukashenka in some other way. Why not take frozen Belarusian accounts and demonstratively use them to finance Syrian refugee camps in Turkey? As long as the Polish government is left alone with its refugee problem, it is radicalising itself at the expense of the European Union.”

La Stampa (IT) /

From prison complex to fortress complex

A good few states seem to be suffering from short-term memory loss, La Stampa rails:

“The migrants always find new routes, triggering a fortress-type reflex. ... Yet not even a quarter of a century [sic] has passed since the wall that barbarically divided Germany and Europe in two, the Iron Curtain, was torn down. Some states have a short memory: now the very countries that were imprisoned behind it want to be behind a new wall. From prison complex to fortress complex.”

Delfi (LT) /

Lithuania harming its own interests

Lithuania's government still hasn't grasped the fact that membership of the EU entails not just taking but also giving, political scientist Kęstutis Girnius grumbles in Delfi:

“It should be unpleasant to ask for help when you yourself are not prepared to provide it. The question is why countries like Spain, Italy and Greece should support changes and expenditures that favour Lithuania when Lithuania is otherwise indifferent to the problems of others. Perhaps they will be both generous and pragmatic in supporting Lithuania's requests, but they're unlikely to forget its indifference or to believe that it always puts policies that support values first.”

The Press Project (GR) /

Criminal border protection

The Press Project sees the EU in an absurd situation:

“EU Commissioner Johansson publicly denounces Greece for refusing to examine the research findings of ten European media outlets. We are, of course, talking about the same EU that pours millions of euros into financing fences and the new closed camp prisons. ... The modus operandi that is being criticised now is not 'border protection' [as the Greek government calls it], but more like 'criminal acts', as the ten media outlets wrote, citing an official.”