Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during an annual press conference in Minsk.
Maxim Guchek/BelTA photo via AP
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that the government could further suspend cooperation with the European Union on migration.
Belarus said that the move was made in response to “unfriendly actions” by the EU and its member states.
Brussels has accused Lukashenko of encouraging migrants to illegally cross into the bloc in retaliation against western sanctions.
The Belarusian President has dismissed the allegations and blamed the EU for a build-up of migrants at the country’s border.
Under a current agreement, Minsk would take back refugees that entered the EU via Belarus if they violated the conditions of their stay.
The accord was signed in 2020 before Lukahsneko’s disputed re-election last August.
But Lukashenko has now suggested ending Belarus’ obligation to accept returning refugees and submitted a draft law on the suspension to parliament.
“The document was prepared by the Government as part of measures in response to the unfriendly actions taken by the EU and its member states towards Belarus,” a statement read.
“In the near future, the relevant obligations of our country will be frozen.”
On Wednesday, the EU delegation to Belarus once again accused of using migrants to wage a “hybrid war” and destabilise the bloc.
“The EU condemns the instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes and urges the authorities in Belarus to stop this practice,” the delegation said. “Irregular migration cannot be used as a bargaining chip.”
The European Commission has also confirmed it is preparing fresh sanctions against Belarus over the flood of migrants across the country’s borders.
Lithuania declared a state of emergency at its border back in July. The country’s authorities had by then detained more than 800 migrants entering from Belarus, up from 81 in 2020.
Meanwhile, Poland has declared a state of emergency in two border regions following an influx of thousands of migrants from its neighbour.