· The European Parliament held a debate on ‘the situation in Belarus and at its border with the EU, and the security and humanitarian implications’.
· The debate was remarkably calm, with the majority of MEPs unanimously supporting Poland’s resistance and condemning the aggressive actions of Belarus.
· The EP sees the attack on Poland’s eastern border as an attempt to destabilise the whole of the EU.
· Among 43 statements, only three were directly critical of Poland.
· Many MEPs were also critical of the European Commission, which was accused of not supporting Poland enough.
· The hybrid war between Belarus and the European Union could be the beginning of a change in EU policy – an abandonment of political correctness and ideology in favour of acting in the well-understood community interest.
Unprecedented unanimity reverberated during yesterday’s debate in the European Parliament. Both the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Renew Europe, Identity and Democracy (ID) group, and even the Greens – all unanimously rejected Aleksandar Lukashenko’s propaganda and supported Poland’s firm resistance to the onslaught of immigrants on the EU’s eastern border.
‘It is worth noting that during the debate – apart from a few extreme left-wing MEPs – hardly anyone used the term “refugees”, while it was repeatedly stressed that bringing migrants to the Polish-Belarusian border is an element of hybrid war in which we cannot take a single step backwards. Even the European Parliament, which is so ideological and detached from reality in so many respects, can see that the actions at the border are an attempt to destabilise the Union’, commented Anna Kubacka of the Ordo Iuris Centre for International Law.
During the debate, there were only three voices expressing direct criticism of Poland, and only one of them included a demand to allow migrants into Europe.
The representative of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PSSiD) group, Brigit Sippel, accused Poland of ‘not paying attention to the humanitarian catastrophe’ and demanded the activation of the relevant treaty violation procedure. Contrary to the facts, she claimed that Poland does not allow ‘humanitarian organisations to come to the border to rescue people from hunger and cold’, succumbing to the propaganda narrative that the migrants are on the territory of Poland and not Belarus. At the same time, she omitted the fact that people who enter the territory of Poland are provided with adequate humanitarian aid, and appropriate legal procedures are applied in connection with illegal border crossing. Maria Arena, from the same group, also held Poland responsible ‘for the ill-treatment of these men, women and children’.
Miguel Urban Crespo of the Left, on the other hand, stated that ‘migrants must be helped to enter Europe legally’, while criticising EU member states and the European Commission for supporting the ‘Polish Right’. In his view, Polish actions on the eastern border are racist and he compared them to Donald Trump’s migration policy.
Many times during the debate, MEPs from different factions criticised the European Commission. MEPs accused the Commission of failing to provide sufficient support for Poland and demanded that funds be transferred to border protection.
Both the European Commission and numerous MEPs have pointed out that today we are not dealing with a migration crisis but a planned attack on the European Union’s external border. It has been repeatedly pointed out that we cannot speak of ‘refugees’, but of migrants who have come to Belarus in order to illegally cross the border into the EU. It has also been stressed that the circumstances call for a decisive response, hence the sanctions that have already been imposed and others that are in the process of being adopted, including against carriers who, consciously or not, participate in people smuggling and attempt to destabilise the EU.
Many MEPs, both from the left and the right, have also directly criticised the actions of countries whose representatives have entered into contact and negotiations with Belarus without taking into account the need for the EU to act in solidarity and without considering the countries most concerned, namely Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. They also pointed out that this contact is a sign of legitimising Lukashenko’s power, which is unacceptable in view of the political situation in Belarus, the rigged elections and, finally, the current situation on the border. Bogusław Liberadzki (PSSiD) called for ‘an almost demonstrative unity of the European Union’.
Professor Ryszard Legutko, on behalf of the European Conservatives and the Polish Prime Minister, who was not given the opportunity to speak in the debate, described the situation from Poland’s perspective. He pointed out that at the moment, several thousand Polish soldiers are patrolling the eastern border, because the integrity of Poland and the Baltic states is in danger. He also pointed out that this is a ‘long shadow of Russia’s imperial policy’ and not a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis.
Among the many contributions, the speech of Nicolas Bay (ID) may deserve special attention, who pointed out that the most humane solution to the migration issue has been adopted by Australia, which does not accept any irregular migrants and therefore no one attempts to migrate illegally, which results in no victims of such migration.
‘Although yesterday’s debate shows that the EP, in the face of a real threat, is able to abandon ideology and political correctness in favour of acting on the basis of the law and properly understood community interest, it is difficult not to agree with Prof. Legutko, who pointed to a number of events – from Russia’s aggression against Georgia, to the occupation of Crimea, to the falsification of elections in Belarus and, finally, to the issue of the NordStream2 gas pipeline – which have reassured Russia and Belarus of the weakness, passivity and lack of solidarity among EU Member States and the EU itself. The lack of equal treatment of individual Member States in the EU is one of the many problems of the Union which Ordo Iuris has drawn attention to many times. The current crisis gives hope that the Union will notice its weaknesses and learn how to act in the future’, adds Anna Kubacka.
· The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a complaint by a male couple regarding the refusal to grant Polish citizenship to twins in their care.
· The European Parliament held a debate on violence against women and the current situation regarding ratification of the gender-based Istanbul Convention.
· There is an ongoing migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.
· The Belarusian authorities are actively involved in organising the increased migration wave and helping migrants to cross its territory to the border with Poland.
· The European Union intends to sign a new partnership agreement with the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).