Poland gains ‘solidarity’ from France in migrant crisis at Belarus border

Emmanuel Macron 'reaffirms his solidarity' with EU nation at meeting with Polish PM

France and European Union nations will support Poland in its migrant border face-off with Belarus, President Emmanuel Macron has said.

As Poland steps up diplomatic efforts to resolve the problem, more migrants tried to force their way across the border in two separate locations overnight.

Mr Macron “reaffirmed his solidarity with Poland in the face of the destabilisation efforts it faces on its eastern border” at a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Paris.

“They also discussed the issue of rule of law in Poland," a statement issued by France said. "The president reiterated his concerns on this matter and called on the Polish government to find a solution that safeguarded the core values of the European Union."

They met as European leaders grapple with what European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has called an attempt by Belarus to use migrants to destabilise the EU.

Poland, as an EU border nation, is an attractive prospect for many migrants arriving from war-torn countries — with France and Germany among the preferred final destinations.

The border crisis had been bubbling for weeks before exploding in early November.

The EU believes Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko engineered the crisis by encouraging migrants to travel to the border in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Belarus over human rights abuses.

By Wednesday, an estimated 15,000 migrants were massed on either side of the border in freezing, inhospitable conditions, with about 12,000 Polish soldiers, border guards and police in place.

Although fewer numbers have been gathering at the border in the past few days, Poland believes the reduction is down to a change of tactics by Belarus, which it says is now moving migrants to the border area in smaller groups.

Polish border guards reported seeing two groups of migrants overnight — one comprising 100 people and the other about 40.

Mr Macron's renewed support comes as the EU is locked in a dispute with Warsaw over freedom of the press and the independence of Poland's judiciary.

In October, Poland's judiciary questioned the supremacy of EU law in a court ruling, a move the EU interpreted as a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order and which raised fears that Poland could eventually exit the bloc.

Updated: November 24th 2021, 1:50 PM
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