Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko | Photo: EPA
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko | Photo: EPA

French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune has accused the family of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of being behind 'human trafficking' to the European Union.

Clément Beaune on Wednesday (October 27) said that "trafficking in human beings is directly organized by the Lukashenko family, with third countries, in any case with commercial flights and organized tours." During a session of the French Senate's commission for European affairs, the secretary said that "the [Belarusian] regime is cleverly organized," bringing in people from Iraq to the European Union (EU) "through Turkey, through Dubai."

Migrants, refugees at EU-Belarus border

In recent months, thousands of migrants and refugees have attempted to cross into Lithuania, Latvia and Poland from Belarus. European officials have repeatedly accused the Lukashenko regime of allowing migrants and refugees to fly into Minsk and to then travel towards the EU, as retaliation against economic sanctions imposed by the EU against his regime.

"It is an unbearable traffic that aims to weaken and divide the European Union," said Beaune.

He added: "The trap into which Lukashenko wants us to fall [...] is to tell us: 'It is you who don't want migrants, it is you who mistreat them, you are the ones who don't respect the great principles you proclaim.'"

Human rights violations at the border

"We have to be impeccable, firm and human in our response", said the close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron -- indirectly criticizing Poland and other border countries.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the response of EU countries bordering on Belarus to the increase in attempted border crossings. Thousands of people are stuck in the border area, pushed back and forth by border officers on both sides, living in abysmal conditions.

Poland in particular has been repeatedly accused of violent illegal pushbacks. The country also recently passed a controversial law aimed at legalizing pushbacks that makes it de facto impossible for people arriving via Belarus to ask for asylum. At least eight migrants have died in the Polish-Belarusian border region since the surge in arrivals.

Beaune against border wall

Beaune also addressed the proposal to use EU funds to build border walls at the Union's external borders, endorsed by the interior ministers from 12 member states (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) earlier this month. "It is not with barbed wire that we will solve the problem," the secretary said.


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