Angela Merkel, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya discuss migration crisis, situation in Belarus over phone

On November 22, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Angela Merkel had a phone conversation. The politicians discussed the situation in Belarus.

“It is a good opportunity to talk, because you were not very happy with my phone calls with Lukashenka,” the German Chancellor noted at the beginning of the conversation.

Angela Merkel vowed Germany’s unwavering support for the Belarusian democratic movement. She told Tsikhanouskaya that the German political leadership would do their utmost to contribute to ceasing repression against Belarusian civil society and independent journalists, releasing political prisoners as well as holding free and fair elections.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya thanked Angela Merkel for the support provided to the people of Belarus over the past year and for commitment to principle with regard to the Lukashenka regime.

Today I has been assured that both the EU and Germany will be firmly adhering to the policy of non-recognition of the regime. Holding consultations on resolving the crisis at the border do not mean that the EU’s position on the Lukashenka regime has changed,” she said.

On November 15, the Council of the EU amended its sanctions regime against the Belarusian authorities by broadening the listing criteria on which specific designations can be based. The EU is now able to target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenka regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU’s external borders.

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On the same day, Lukashenka and Merkel had a phone conversation. According to Lukashenka’s press service, they discussed ‘several issues, primarily the situation with refugees on the Belarusian-Polish, Belarusian-Lithuanian, and Belarusian-Latvian borders’. Later, when asked to comment on the conversation, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said that the Belarusian politician expressed readiness to pull the plug on the current migration crisis, but in exchange for the West’s recognising him as president and lifting sanctions imposed on the regime.

On November 16, a group of migrants who were seeking to illegally cross the Belarus-Poland border, started to throw stones, logs, metal pieces at Polish border guards from the Belarusian side. To stop the attackers, Polish officers resorted to using tear gas and water cannons.

On November 17, Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Angela Merkel talked via telephone one more time; according to Merkel’s press secretary Steffen Seibert, the German politician ‘pointed up the necessity for providing the people affected with humanitarian aid and opportunities to return [to their countries] with the support of UN Refugee Agency, UN International Organisation for Migration and in cooperation with the European Commission’.

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