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S&D Group President: “We must say it loud and clear that the EU must never fund walls”

Date

12 Nov 2021

Sections

Global Europe

Speaking in the plenary debate on the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the Polish-Belarusian border, S&D Group President Iratxe García condemned suggestions that EU funding could be used to build physical barriers on the EU’s external borders.

Instead she called on Member States to adopt stronger sanctions against the Lukashenko regime, to ban airlines involved in the regime’s operations to transport vulnerable migrants and give support to Poland to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

The S&D Group President also urged Polish authorities to allow journalists to report from the region to shed light on the facts:

“Dictator Lukashenko's use of migrants for political purposes is not only inhumane but criminal. Faced with the gravity of the situation, the European Union must give a firm response. But we cannot be ambiguous in searching for solutions. We must say it loud and clear that the European Union must never fund walls. We have other instruments at our disposal to stop the drama on the border between Poland and Belarus.

"The Council must adopt new sanctions against Lukashenko's dictatorship without delay, including measures against individuals and companies. Airlines assisting with the transfer of migrants from third countries flying to European territory have to be banned and there must be an adequate financial plan to enable Poland to respond immediately to the humanitarian crisis. In turn, the Polish government must grant access to UN agencies and NGOs to ensure humanitarian aid, as well as to the media to report the reality on the ground.

"Take whatever steps you deem appropriate, but do so in line with EU law and international obligations, i.e. with respect for human rights. The Lukashenko regime cannot exempt us from complying with the law, which this tyrant insists on flouting. Automatic returns are illegal and the right to asylum must prevail in all circumstances.

Yesterday was the 32nd anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An historic milestone in our integration project that always reminds us that walls never alleviate suffering. Mr Michel, Mr Weber, do not waste your efforts building walls that have so often buried people’s dignity on European soil.”

 

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