‘Duty to stand by our Polish friends’ French back plans for border wall as migrant crisis

Belarus: Lukashenko created border crisis says professor

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Michel Barnier, Xavier Bertrand, Valérie Pécresse, Éric Ciotti and Philippe Juvin, the five candidates for the LR nomination for the French presidential election next April, have pleaded for firmness as thousands of Middle Eastern migrants are stranded on the Poland-Belarus border.

The chaotic scenes are the result of Belarus’s efforts to retaliate against the EU.

The bloc imposed sanctions on the ex-Soviet country following the disputed election victory of Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 and the president’s decision to ground a Ryanair flight earlier this year as it flew over Belarus on its way to Lithuania to detain Roman Protasevich, an opposition journalist and activist.

Brussels has accused Mr Lukashenko’s government of using Middle Eastern migrants as a political weapon by luring them into Belarus to then send them to Poland.

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Warsaw, determined to put an end to the influx of immigrants and refugees Mr Lukashenko is sending their way, agreed on the construction of a border wall.

Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said it would be a “solid, high barrier, with a surveillance system and motion detectors”.

French election candidates showed support for the plans.

Speaking of Alexander Lukashenko’s efforts to “destabilise the EU” and proposing the Belarusian president be taken to the International Criminal Court, Michel Barnier said: “What is happening in Belarus is criminal!

“It is a deliberate instrumentalisation of the dictatorial regime.”

The former Brexit negotiator, who plans to stand as a right-wing candidate against Emmanuel Macron next year, said France has a “duty to stand by our Polish friends”.

He added: “We must help the Polish government to build a solid border.”

For Xavier Bertrand, a contender for the centre-right, there is no doubt as he said: “We must help the Poles to protect our border.

“It is not the Polish border, but the border of Europe.”

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Valérie Pécresse, head of the Ile-De-France region, where Paris is located, said: “We cannot give in to the migratory blackmail of a dictator who wants to bring Europe to its knees.

“It is the very existence of Europe that is at stake.”

Parliamentarian Éric Ciotti claimed: “Only firmness will be a guarantee of humanity.

“Europe has a duty to protect its borders.

“We must not welcome these migrants because that would mean giving in to blackmail.

“We would be opening up gaps throughout Europe.”

Philippe Juvin, doctor, former MEP and current mayor of La Garenne-Colombes, said the “priority of priorities” was to consider the “humanitarian aspect” of the crisis by sending “food and blankets” to the people on the border.

Showing “solidarity with the Poles”, however, should not “prevent us from being very firm” because “the Schengen area does not work”.

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