Warsaw (dpa) – Poland has imposed a state of emergency in the border region with Belarus. By signing a corresponding decree, President Andrzej Duda responded on Thursday to the illegal entry of many migrants from the neighboring eastern country.
“The situation on Poland’s border with Belarus is difficult and dangerous,” said a spokesman for the presidential administration in Warsaw.
The state of emergency, which is to apply for 30 days, entered into force in the afternoon when it was published in the Official Journal. Parliament must be informed within 48 hours and has the possibility to revoke the ordinance.
A three kilometer wide strip along the border with a total of 183 villages is affected. Meetings and major events are now prohibited there. Access to public information is restricted. Media representatives should stay out of the border area, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said. Photographing soldiers, border guards and police officers and their equipment is prohibited. From midnight, any person having no private or professional connection with the zone will have to leave the border strip.
Migrants as a means of political pressure?
The government in Warsaw accused Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of bringing refugees from crisis areas to the EU’s external border in an organized manner. Lukashenko announced in late May that Minsk would no longer prevent migrants from continuing to travel to the EU – in response to tougher Western sanctions against the former Soviet republic.
“We have to consider the security of Poland and the EU,” said the spokesperson for the presidential administration. The 418 kilometer long Polish border with Belarus is also an external border of the EU.
Interior Minister Kaminski said one of the reasons for the imposition of the state of emergency was the joint military maneuvers that the Russian and Belarusian armies would organize from September 10 in western Belarus. on the border with Poland. You have to be ready for any kind of provocation. “Across the border there will be some very dangerous people with guns and ammunition.”
Recently, Latvia and Lithuania also declared a state of emergency in response to the entry of illegal immigrants into several regions bordering Belarus. Among other things, this allowed border guards to turn back migrants.
In Poland, however, the state of emergency is controversial. Polish public opinion has recently taken an interest in the fate of a group of Afghan refugees stranded near the border town of Usnarz Gorny for a good three weeks. Polish border guards, police and soldiers have cordoned off the camp and are not allowing refugees to enter the country. The national-conservative PiS government is known for its tough stance on the refugee issue.
Former President Aleksander Kwasniewski criticized the PiS government’s refusal to declare a state of disaster even at the height of the corona pandemic. Now, the real reason for the state of emergency is that one can restrict the access of journalists, assistants and representatives of international organizations in order to act without public control.