Belarus does not want confrontation with Poland but it does want an answer from the European Union on whether the bloc will accept 2,000 stranded migrants, President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying by the Belta news agency on Monday.
The EU accuses Belarus of flying in thousands of people from the Middle East and pushing them to cross into the EU via Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in response to European sanctions. Minsk denies fomenting the crisis.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned on Sunday that the migrant crisis on the Belarus border may be a prelude to “something much worse”, and Poland’s border guard said Belarusian forces were still ferrying migrants to the frontier.
Lukashenko, as quoted by state-owned Belta, said he did not want things to escalate.
“We need to get through to the Poles, to every Pole, and show them that we’re not barbarians, that we don’t want confrontation. We don’t need it. Because we understand that if we go too far, war is unavoidable,” he said.
“And that will be a catastrophe. We understand this perfectly well. We don’t want any kind of flare-up.”
Lukashenko also said he insisted Germany take in some migrants and complained that the EU was not making contact with Minsk on the issue.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Matthias Williams, Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz Editing by Ingrid Melander, Andrew Osborn and Philippa Fletcher)
Photo – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. EPA-EFE/MAXIM GUCHEK / BELTA POOL