Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko is allowing more and more Refugees fly in from the Middle East to Minsk. These pay up to 10.000 dollars for airfare, hotel accommodations and transportation to the border with Poland, Lithuania or Latvia. What options does the EU have to stop this state-directed Migration tourism to stop? An overview:
Belarus: can light economic sanctions be enough?
Currently, EU diplomats are negotiating punitive measures against Belarusian state-owned Belavia airline, which operates direct flights from the Middle East to Minsk. Brussels wants to ban EU-based airlines from lending aircraft to Belavia or otherwise supporting it. Next Monday, EU foreign ministers to decide on leasing ban. In addition, the EU is considering sanctioning travel agencies and airlines from some 30 third countries – including Turkey and Russia – should they engage in people smuggling.
But if Belarusian Belavia can't borrow planes from lines based in EU countries, it will look outside the community. Lukashenko is not really affected by this. Punitive measures against airlines and travel agencies in third countries are also problematic. The flights from Istanbul, Damascus or Yerevan to Minsk carry not only migrants, but also businessmen, diplomats or tourists. Who should precisely control where People smuggling and where a regular trip takes place?
Tighten economic sanctions significantly
the EU had already agreed on new sanctions against Belarus in June 2021. Core ies were restrictive measures against 78 persons and eight organizations. Among them was the truck manufacturer MAZ and the manufacturer of large dump trucks BELAZ. Both companies do little business in the EU, but rely on inputs from there. In addition, there have been sanctions against Belarusian companies from the core petrochemical and fertilizer industries.
Belarus: EU could impose import ban on Belarusian oil products
A further tightening of sanctions is conceivable. For example, an import ban on Belarus' biggest exports: oil and petroleum products, as well as fertilizers important for agriculture or precursors for their production. Russia is the largest customer of all exports, the EU-27 is the second most important trading partner. It would be painful for Belarus if, in the Oil sector an import ban would be imposed. The same applies to the fertilizer potash.
An additional extremely harsh measure would be the exclusion from the international payment system SWIFT. By example Iran you can see that the economy of this country has been badly hit. For example, gross domestic product fell by up to twelve percent in the past two years.
It is not easy to reach an agreement in the EU on such sanctions clubs. In addition, tough sanctions may lead to trade diversions. For example, despite an extremely rigid sanctions regime by the U.S. and EU, Iran has sought new trading partners, such as China or Russia. There are also problems with the payment system Loopholes. Iran does not get any credits in the West. But via complicated detours it receives loans or barter supplies from China, Vietnam, Malaysia or Turkey. Belarus could also seek such alternatives.
Belarus: Acceptance of refugees into the EU?
This approach would be difficult. Already in the past, it has been stuck on this, a EU-wide key for the distribution of migrants. Countries like Hungary or Poland vehemently refuse to join in.
Even if the EU managed to take in 3000 to 4000 migrants from Belarus, it is doubtful that the refugee misery would be solved. Lukashenko would very likely bring new migrants into the country and transport them to EU borders. The prere on the community would remain.
Belarus: New migration pact with Ukraine or Moldova
Migration expert Gerald Knaus brought up a migration pact along the lines of the EU-Turkey deals into play. The European Union should agree with partners such as Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia that these states take in the people and carry out asylum procedures, it said. With such a "Anti-sanctions pact" Would send EU a signal to people "not to be lured to Minsk".
Disadvantage: Countries like the Ukraine or Moldova Are poor. They have problems providing enough jobs and social benefits for their own population. A refugee deal with the EU would be expensive make them pay. Moreover, many migrants in Belarus have signaled that they do not even want to stay in Poland. Their target would be Germany. It is therefore to be feared that migrants from Ukraine or Moldova would look for other routes to get to Germany.
Refugee politicians: agreements with countries of origin as an option
The EU Commission wants to make countries of origin and transit, Flights with migrants from the Middle East to Minsk. The Vice-President of the EU Commission, Margaritis Schinas, and the Foreign Affairs Commissioner, Josep Borrell, will soon be traveling to various countries in the Middle East for this purpose.
Disadvantage: countries will demand a high price from Brussels. Whether the governments will Trafficking effectively combat them on the ground may be doubted.
Are diplomatic sanctions enough?
The EU has already announced the suspension of visa facilitation for representatives of the Belarusian regime. Entry into countries of the community is thus no longer so easy. However, this is rather Symbol politics and this is unlikely to deter Lukashenko in his course.
EU aid for Poland? Why this is unlikely
The EU Commission has already encouraged Poland to accept help on several occasions. The EU border management agency Frontex, the asylum agency Easo and the police agency Europol would be ready to help with the registering migrants, processing asylum applications and fighting smuggling to help.
Downside: Poland has so far rejected such offers. The government wants to take a hard line on migrants. Brussels advice for Asylum procedure she categorically rejects. It fits Warsaw's general line of prioritizing nation-state powers over the EU.
Total isolation: Is that even possible??
The Hungarian prime minister made a start a few years ago. He had a fence of more than 100 kilometers built on the border with Serbia. Countries such as Bulgaria, Greece and Lithuania have followed suit. The Austrian Minister of the Interior Karl Nehammer now asked Poland to help with border protection.
However, this course is not compatible with the EU Commission's approach. President Ursula von der Leyen said that while the Union wants to help monitor the EU's external border. But for "barbed wire and walls" Brussels would not provide funds.