Gov't moves for state of emergency in border regions

2021-08-31 13:31 update: 2021-09-02, 19:14
Fot. PAP/Artur Reszko
Fot. PAP/Artur Reszko
The Polish government has asked the president to declare a state of emergency in areas close to the country’s Belarusian border owing to an alleged attempt by Belarus to destabilise Poland by pushing migrants across the border.

The immediate reason for the move is a crisis caused by the plight of 30 Middle Eastern migrants camped for the past three weeks on the Polish-Belarusian border after being refused entry by Poland.

Their situation has racked up tensions between Poland and Belarus, with Warsaw accusing the Belarusian government of encouraging migrants to cross into Poland in an attempt to destabilise the country.

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, said on Tuesday that the state of emergency will be introduced for a 30-day period in parts of the Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces.

"The situation on the border with Belarus is in crisis, it is tense, and this is because the Lukashenko regime decided to transport people mainly from Iraq to Belarus and to push these people into the territory of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in order to introduce a destabilising element in our countries," he said.

Adding detail, Mariusz Kaminski, the interior minister, said that the emergency laws will cover 183 localities in the border zone, and will ban all tourist excursions, cultural and mass events and demonstrations in the area in order to let the border guards, army and police monitor the border effectively.

The government wrote on its website that inhabitants over 18 in areas covered by the emergency laws will be obliged to carry personal identification in public areas, minors will have to carry a school card. Also restricted will be the right to carry firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Also suspended is the right to organise and run gatherings, mass events and cultural events.

Later on Tuesday, President Andrzej Duda said he was analysing the details of the government's request.

"I'm very seriously considering the government's initiatives," Duda said. "We are analysing the details of the resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers with regard to declaring a state of emergency in the border area, strengthening the border and calming down the situation for local inhabitants."

The president said that inhabitants have voiced concerns over the tense situation in the region.

"I hope that when I make the decision (...) it will be seen favourably by the Polish Sejm (the lower house of parliament - PAP)," Duda said.

Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have accused the government of Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, of encouraging Middle Eastern migrants on its territory to cross into their countries as part of a so-called hybrid war against them.

On Friday, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said the crisis was not a migration problem but a part of the Belarusian policy of destabilising the EU. (PAP)