Immigrants are dying at the Polish-Belarusian border! Refugees fleeing terrible conflicts in the Middle East have managed to make it all the way into Belarus, yet when they want to cross over into Poland, they get send back. This has ended with some of them dying. The EU’s solution was simple, Poland must joint the Western trend and accept its own group of foreigners.
Until it flipflopped and decided that the immigration wave encouraged by Belarus was to crazy, even for its standards, and Poland suddenly enjoyed a milder treatment. Suddenly Poland is both fighting wit hand against the EU. Suddenly Eastern Europe appears united. Suddenly the more radical left is upset with the EU’s migration policies.
Let’s start with what seems like the more obvious question that got ignored during all the various attacks on either Lukashenko, Poland and now even the European Union:
Aren’t Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia or Oezbekistan (that’s how you spell that right?) capable of taking in refugees? They’re pretty darn large. Closer to the Middle East. Why don’t refugees stay there? Why do they travel all the way into Belarus? Assylum seekers are supposed to seek assylum, not economic prosperity.
Were all these assyum seekers chased out of every country between Iraq/Afghanistan and Poland and the Baltic states? If so, why aren’t those countries getting criticised more for violating the rights of assylum seekers?
Or are refugees not forced by the respective governments to keep travelling till they reach the EU and they simply choose to do so because the EU is richer? That doesn’t exactly sound like real refugees.
Regardless, they ended up in Belarus, which likes to send them into the Baltic states and Poland. Poland didn’t like this (of course) and declared and then extended a state of emergency. This resulted in complaints from the EU (and pro-EU) opposition groups. Poland is supposedly killing them. Lukashenko got some of the blame as well. But at first it was mainly about a nationalist EU state not being refugee friendly enough. Then suddenly it wasn’t. All the countries between Belarus end the Middle East didn’t seem to get mentioned either way though. Either Poland got attacked or Belarus, and now the EU.
Not that any of this has worked out to badly for Poland’s right-wing government. It has reaped nothing but profit from this. They’ve been rising in the polls, after various previous controversies backlash following them pushing through their more contentious agenda. While only a small minority of Poles support a Polexit, it is becoming substantially easier for the United Right government to play chicken with the EU when the EU is suggesting it should let in thousands from the Middle East. They’ve given them a new election issue. We need to build a wall!!
Even Latvia joined in, so it seems like an multi-national-nationalism with a joint wall project that brings nations closer together, though not EU-states as a whole.
As the title already showed you, I actually started writing this before the 8th of november when the crisis reached a new level with Belarusian authorities marching hundreds towards a crossing point while giving them scissors to attack the fence and the President and key ministers holding an emergency meeting. Emergency meetings to safe the people from a crisis are free elections campaigns (especially when you control the state media).
Then the army brought in reinforcements and the United Right got a chance to play hero. Hungary anounced its support, than likewise under siege Lithuania, after that Latvia and Macedonia and we once again got to see the difference between Eastern and Western Europe.
During the month after that Czech decided to send in troops as well.
Belarus ended up being more harsly condemned by the EU, yet pro-immigration outlets still peddled Lukashenko’s narrative allowing the Right to retake the initiative in accusing people of spreading (Bela)russian disinformation.
But in the end, with Poland and the Baltic states staking a consistent anti-Lukashenko and pro-border protection line, the European Commission suddenly favoured limiting assylum seeker rights and Poland’s narrative gained support even outside hard right circles. TheConversation has already started attacking the EU over its policies.
Poland has its election issue and Lukashenko his ability to get payback.
The only losing faction seems to be the EU really (and the genuine refugees who may have actually thought Europe would be safer and who were forced by Belarus to get themselves killed trying to get into Poland). It’s immigration policies and vaguely defined (and inconsistent) democracy and rule of law ideals are beig ignored by nations shapped by communist repression and a less idealistic post-babyboomer mentality and it has now had to flipflop on them itself. It rules appear pragmatic and arbitrary which is precisely what the Polish government has recently been claiming.
The provocation of Belarus was particularly stupid if you ask me. Prior to the last election, Lukashenko did literally nothing except being a dictator who rigged elections. He wasn’t destabilising other regimes, engaging in hostile manoeuvres against his neighbours or anything. He was just the dictator of Belarus His democratic neighbours aided the democratic opposition and he is engaging in some destructive payback.
Yes, I am suggesting it was stupid for democratic countries in Eastern Europe to get involved in internal Belarusian affairs, even to promote democracy. I am not a Jacobin. Most old fashioned (classical) liberals were not actually. Belarusian democracy is more likely to work if it is established solely by the people themselves.
Victims of war and persecution should be able to receive assylum in safe neighbouring countries. The best way to promote this is by ensuring the neighbouring countries actually do this (instead of promoting democracy in them), so that the burden doesn’t fall almost exclusively on the First World (minus the Asian tigers).