European Union agrees on new sanctions against Belarus over migrant crisis
The Xinhua reported that the bloc's top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday, foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) have agreed on new sanctions against Belarus over the migrant crisis.
He said addressing a press conference after the ministers' meeting, he said the new set of sanctions had been "politically adopted" and "will be finalized in the coming days." The sanctions will affect "quite an important number" of individuals and entities.
Borrel said: "By expanding the scope of the sanctions, we will be able to target those responsible for exploiting vulnerable migrants and for facilitating illegal border crossing into the EU."
The EU has been blaming Belarus for the current migrant crisis at its external borders. Belarus has denied the accusation and expressed its readiness for dialogue.
BelTA News Agency reported on Sunday that Belarusian Foreign Affairs Minister Vladimir Makei had told the EU that his country would try to reduce migrant flows from Asia, Africa and the Middle East to the EU.
Borrell said Monday that he had spoken to Makei and demanded that assistance should be given to provide humanitarian aid to the stranded migrants.
Also on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko held a phone conversation on the situation at the border, especially regarding humanitarian aid for the migrants there, according to media reports.
So far, 166 individuals and 15 entities have been designated under the EU's sanctions on Belarus, according to the bloc's external action service. According to Lukashenko, the sanctions have dented his country's ability to tackle the crisis.
Meanwhile, Poland's deputy interior minister said Monday that thousands of migrants were trying to cross from Belarus into Poland near the Kuznica border crossing.
Maciej Wasik wrote on Twitter: "Thousands of migrants have moved from their camp to the closed Kuznica crossing under the supervision of Belarusian security forces," adding that the Polish authorities were "ready for every scenario."
The Polish Defense Ministry said that the number of migrants gathered at Kuznica has been steadily growing. The latest reports estimated their number at between 2,000 and 4,000.