Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said his country seeks no confrontation with Poland, but if the crisis deteriorates too far, then “war is unavoidable.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has chafed at the European Union for its refusal to hold talks on the influx of migrants on the country's border with Poland.
Lukashenko urged Germany to accommodate about 2,000 migrants who had remained on the border with Poland and criticised EU officials for refusing to negotiate an end to the standoff.
“We must demand that the Germans take them,” Lukashenko said at a meeting with officials on Monday.
Lukashenko, as quoted by the state-owned Belta news agency, said he did not want things to escalate.
"We need to get through to the Poles, to every Pole, and show them that we're not barbarians, that we don't want confrontation. We don't need it. Because we understand that if we go too far, war is unavoidable," he said.
"And that will be a catastrophe. We understand this perfectly well. We don't want any kind of flare-up."
The EU has accused Lukashenko's government of orchestrating the migration surge on its eastern flank as a “hybrid attack” in retaliation for the bloc's sanctions over the crackdown by Belarusian authorities on domestic protests.
Belarus denies the charge.
Poland is pushing the migrants back, saying it's protecting the border for all of Europe.
It has received strong declarations of support from the EU, NATO and the US.
A few migrants have died in the damp forests straddling the border. Others have abandoned hopes of reaching Europe and were flown back to their home countries this week.
Humanitarian organisations and Poland’s influential Roman Catholic Church have been pressing to be allowed to bring aid to the stranded migrants, and nongovernmental organisations in Poland have organised charity collections.
Poland’s Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said on Monday that there were over 300 attempts by migrants on Sunday to force the razor wire border fence into the EU.
Most were prevented while about 60 people who got through were turned back, she said.
In one case, it was a group of around 150 “aggressive foreigners,” who tried to cross, aided by Belarus forces who used laser and electric torch lights to blind Polish border guards, Michalska said.
Poland offers to finance return flights
Poland is planning return flights for hundreds of Iraqi migrants staying now in the country’s guarded centres for foreigners, Michalska added.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday that Poland was ready to finance return flights for migrants, and the European border agency Frontex has said it was working with Poland on such flights.