Groundhog day in Berlin, as the situation at the Poland-Belarus border continues to worsen and caretaker Chancellor Angela Merkel once again called Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, whose government is not officially recognised by the EU.
“Chancellor Merkel had another call with Mr Lukashenko,” tweeted Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert. According to him, Merkel “underlined the necessity” of working with the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR, the UN Migration Office and the European Commission to “provide humanitarian assistance and return options for the people concerned.”
Merkel had been criticised for her Monday call with the Belarusian leader, as it had been the first time that a leader of an EU state had engaged in contact with a government not recognised by the EU.
Unlike her last call, this time it was clarified that the Belarusian dictator was not afforded any special titles, but was merely referred to as “Mr Lukashenko.”
Critics of Merkel’s calls with Minsk complained that Seibert had not shared what had been said by Lukashenko, on either occasion.
Merkel also called Warsaw a few hours later, according to Seibert. They talked about the “close German-Polish coordination on the worrying situation on the border between Belarus and the EU,” he said.
“The Chancellor underlined the full German solidarity with Poland.”
The situation at the border appears to be becoming increasingly violent, with Polish forces having fired water cannons at migrants attempting to cross the border, while they returned fire with stones, leaving at least three Polish individuals wounded.
(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de)