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Turkish Airways denies fueling Belarus-Poland migration disaster

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s flagship provider, Turkish Airways, denied claims it was serving to fuel irregular migration to the European Union in a press release Wednesday amid a rising border disaster between Belarus and Poland with worldwide implications.

EU officers Monday threatened to ban airways over their alleged roles in facilitating Minsk-bound journey for asylum-seekers, which Belarusian authorities have reportedly been guiding towards the Polish border. The carriers that might be focused embrace Turkish Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ FlyDubai, Belarus’ Belavia and different business airways.

Movies and media reports this week confirmed 1000’s of migrants amassing on the Polish border and looking for entry as a part of an obvious retaliation by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko towards EU sanctions imposed over the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this 12 months.

EU Fee President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned Monday European officers have been making ready new sanctions on Belarus, anticipated as early as subsequent week, together with penalties for airways fueling the migration disaster.

“The EU will specifically discover how one can sanction, together with by means of blacklisting, third-country airways which are energetic in human trafficking,” Leyen said in a statement Monday.

Turkish Airways, which some Polish officers accused of accelerating the frequency of Minsk-bound flights in current weeks, denied wrongdoing in a press release Wednesday.

“Our firm makes certain to adjust to all safety measures and sensibilities in cooperation with worldwide officers in all its flights operated to all corners of the world,” the corporate mentioned within the assertion. “We wish to respectfully inform the general public that the allegations within the media are with none foundation.”

Turkish Airways representatives didn’t reply to a number of requests for added feedback for this report.

The implication of Turkey and Turkish Airways within the migration disaster, although based mostly on as but unsubstantiated claims, may affect Turkish-Polish relations after a current warming that noticed Warsaw purchase Turkish-made drones in Might, turning into the primary NATO member to pursue such a deal.

“Even when Turkey thinks, ‘Nicely, we aren’t doing something fallacious. We’re not doing this on function,’ the Polish society appears to suppose that isn’t the case, and sadly optics in worldwide relations matter,” Karol Wasilewski, head of the Polish Institute of Worldwide Affairs’ Center East and Africa Program, instructed Al-Monitor.

Wasilewski added, “It’s going to have an effect on Polish strategic tradition and … Polish society will do not forget that Turkey didn’t assist Poland on this robust scenario.”

Talking Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki criticized Ankara for retaining an open journey hall between Istanbul and Minsk because the disaster on the Polish border escalated.

“A month or two in the past, Turkey appeared to wish to work carefully with us,” Morawiecki mentioned, including he learn Ankara’s current actions to be in “full synchronization” with Belarus and Russia.

“It worries us; we do not prefer it,” Morawiecki mentioned, additionally noting that Poland’s efforts to advertise tourism in Turkey “turned out to be a one-way favor.”

Assessing prospects for a full-blown Turkish-Polish row, Wasilewski mentioned present grievances would probably be momentary and might be shortly resolved by means of diplomacy. Nonetheless, he underlined that the migration disaster represents essentially the most extreme affront on Poland’s borders in trendy occasions, and Polish officers who earlier opposed cooperation with Ankara have been now highlighting current developments as proof that Turkey is “not a dependable companion.”

Wasilewski additionally mentioned Turkish officers might have confronted problem discovering authorized grounds for stopping touristic businesses from offering common journey providers to asylum-seekers sure for Minsk.

In October, about 11,300 attempts to illegally enter Polish territory from Belarus have been recorded, up from roughly 150 the identical month final 12 months. The vast majority of asylum-seekers at the moment in Belarus are reportedly of Iraqi origin, whereas Syrians, Afghans, Congolese and Cameroonians are additionally among the many crowds on the Polish border.

At the least 10 asylum-seekers have died whereas trying to cross the Poland-Belarus border since this summer season. The present migration disaster comes after Lukashenko threatened in Might to permit medicine, radioactive materials and irregular migrants to enter the EU unhindered after the bloc imposed sanctions on his regime this spring.

Metin Corabatir, president of the Ankara-based Analysis Heart on Asylum and Migration, mentioned it was unfair responsible asylum-seekers and nations bordering the EU over shortcomings within the bloc’s migration administration insurance policies.

“This can be a very ethnocentric, Eurocentric strategy within the absence of cooperation and responsibility-sharing,” Corabatir instructed Al-Monitor. “Let’s examine what number of refugees the Polish authorities has been receiving,” he added, referencing Ankara’s work to shelter about 4 million refugees inside Turkish borders.

Corabatir additionally highlighted Turkey’s own border crisis this summer season throughout an exodus of Afghan refugees, sparked by the Taliban takeover of their nation after a US troop pullout as one other occasion the place the EU was “not taking duty” in worldwide migration crises.

“We’re speaking concerning the safety of 1000’s of Afghans from the Taliban, however they’re placing all of the burden on the [EU’s] neighboring international locations,” Corabatir mentioned.

He added, “Blaming [nations] is just not a great strategy … whereas additionally constructing excessive partitions and shutting borders to disclaim entry to asylum-seekers and refugees in EU territories.”

On Tuesday, Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov advised the EU may offer financial assistance to Belarus to quell the present migration disaster, apparently referencing a 2016 EU pact with Turkey. European Commissioner for Dwelling Affairs Ylva Johansson rebutted the statement the identical day.

“Let’s clarify, the European Fee is just not paying cash to the Turkish authorities,” Johansson mentioned Tuesday. “We’re supporting Syrian refugees in Turkey.”

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