Belarusian ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the Embassy of Belarus in Itaewon, Seoul, on Jan. 4. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
Negotiations with Poland and the European Union are the first step toward normalizing the Polish-Belarus border situation and Belarus is ready for talks, according to Belarusian ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky.
Speaking during an interview with The Korea Herald on Jan. 4, Chernetsky cited Polish and EU authorities’ reluctance to consultations on the issue and military operations as root causes of the crisis.
According to the ambassador, Belarus has proposed the European Commission organize consultations on cooperation in combatting illegal migration several times since April 2021. However, Polish and EU officials consistently refused all efforts at dialogue and instead politicized the problem.
The European Commission is the EU executive body that promotes the general interest of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies and the EU budget.
Chernetsky accused the EU of applying double standards in gauging its member states’ actions that have come under criticism from international organizations such as UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, OSCE and the Council of Europe.
Chernetsky admitted he was not aware of the EU’s plans regarding the Belarus-Poland border crisis but mentioned similar problems appeared constantly in many places, citing a recent example of 27 migrants who drowned while heading for the shores of Great Britain from France by boat across the English Channel.
“The routes for the people seeking better lives or escaping unbearable conditions in their homelands have always existed,” he highlighted.
“It is possible to succeed in confronting this challenge only together, certainly not by building fences and deepening ‘dividing lines,’ imposing sanctions, closing the sky.” Chernetsky urged all parties to communicate and to address illegal migration, a constant common challenge for neighboring states.
Chernetsky upheld that Belarus stands ready to work with all international partners, putting aside political differences to prevent the migration crisis in the region from spiraling downwards and to save human lives.
Chernetsky touted problems faced by refugees who were forced to leave their homes and are seeking salvation from tragic events due to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, holding Western states responsible for those wars.
“Belarus, unlike Poland, did not take part in these wars,” he added.
In opposition to the views expressed by Polish Ambassador to Korea Piotr Ostaszewski in a recent interview with The Korea Herald holding Belarus responsible for the current border crisis, Chernovtsy said firm reasons and evidence must be put forth before blaming a government of the sovereign country.
Chernovtsy denied the involvement of Belarusian forces in promoting hope for settlement in Poland or Germany and emphasized that Belarus is not responsible for the reasons that made these people to leave their motherlands and head for Poland or Germany.
“A Belarusian airline did not bring these people to Minsk,” Chernovtsy emphasized, adding the final destination of the refugees was not Belarus and they just chose a route through Belarus.
“In other cases, they will take other routes, through other countries. In particular, would it not be correct to blame England or France in the case mentioned above,” he said.
According to Chernovtsy, people on the border between Belarus and Poland want to get to Europe because they have relatives and friends who settled in European countries earlier.
“They were looking for democracy, and they found it,” he said, urging the Polish ambassador to think about facts instead of engaging in mutual accusations.
Belarusian ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky.(Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
Chernovtsy underlined the desire to escape from the horrors of war at home as the major cause for the gathering of refugees on the Belarusian-Polish border.
Article 33 of the Refugee Convention ratifies that refugees cannot be sent to a place where they may be persecuted.
Chernovtsy recalled 1942 when 120,000 Polish people fled to Iran escaping the horrors of the World War II and were accepted by Iranian authorities.
He stressed that today the refugees are not accepted by Polish government.
“None of the independent journalists are able to report the real situation on the border from the Polish side, because the Polish government has closed access to this area for them,” Chernovtsy highlighted.
“Poland has been insistently trying to blame Belarus in the current border crisis, but the main crisis is, in my opinion, in the Polish politics and recent challenging relations between Poland and the EU,” Chernetsky said, acknowledging Belarus had no authority to intervene in the matter.
According to Chernetsky, Belarus cooperated with UNHCR, IOM and the Belarusian Red Cross Society and provided food, warm clothes, emergency assistance and humanitarian aid to people on the border.
“For those of them who are ready to stay in Belarus, my country is ready to provide asylum,” Chernetsky announced.
By Sanjay Kumar (firstname.lastname@example.org