Travel organizations and airlines that cooperate in transferring asylum seekers via Belarus to the European Union must fear European sanctions. This threatens, among others, the EU’s foreign affairs chief and the German foreign minister.
The countries from which the asylum seekers leave, such as Iraq and Lebanon, are now helping to stem the influx, notes Josep Borrell, the EU’s highest-ranking diplomat. But the union also has travel agencies and airlines in its sights, he warns.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko takes migrants from the Middle East, in particular, to direct them to neighbouring EU countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, the EU said. If airlines do not stop cooperating with this ‘state-led people smuggling’, “they will have to take harsh sanctions into account,” says German foreign minister Heiko Maas. According to him, the withdrawal of landing rights, for example, is no longer excluded.
Minister Ben Knapen and his colleagues agreed on Monday in Brussels on a new arsenal of punitive measures that could be brought against those responsible for the migrant crisis at the Belarusian border. Maas also finds new “harsh economic sanctions unavoidable”.