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Merkel slams 'unacceptable' Belarus migrant push

September 11, 2021

During her last official visit to Poland, the German chancellor decried Belarus for conducting "hybrid attacks" against its EU neighbors.

Angela Merkel pictured in Warsaw next to Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
Merkel has met with Polish PM Morawiecki but will not be meeting with President Andrzej DudaImage: Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo/picture alliance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called on Belarus to offer humanitarian help to migrants trapped on the country's border with Poland.

During her last official visit to Poland as chancellor, she said it was "completely unacceptable" for the government of Belarus to illegally push migrants over the border into EUnion territory.

Merkel backed her Polish and EU counterparts in describing the tactic by Belarus as "hybrid attacks."

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have accused Belarus of trying to destabilize their countries by flying in refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and then pushing them over their shared borders.

Poland: State of emergency at border

Security was high on the agenda during her talks with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and following the Taliban's recapture of Afghanistan.

Concerns over Russian gas debated

Merkel also sought to soothe fears over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which operator Gazprom said Friday had been completed.

Poland's government is concerned that the Baltic Sea pipeline will increase the European Union's dependence on Russian gas and could be used by Moscow to exert pressure.

Angela Merkel and Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw
Germany-Poland relations have cooled since the nationalist Law and Justice party took power in 2015Image: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS

Nord Stream 2 could also be used to bypass Ukraine, which currently relies heavily on fees paid by Moscow for gas to transit the country.

"I made clear that it is our concern that Ukraine will remain a transit land for Russian gas," Merkel said during the joint media conference with Morawiecki.

Poland-EU justice row must be solved by dialogue

Merkel also urged dialogue to resolve the dispute between the European Commission and Poland over the country's reforms to the judicial system. 

"Politics is more than just going to court," Merkel said, adding that talks may already be taking place, but if not, Germany would back this as an approach. 

Poland's justice reforms have sparked a lengthy dispute between Brussels and Warsaw, with critics saying Poland's conservative government is aiming to undermine judicial independence. 

No talks with Duda 

The chancellor was originally set to meet with President Andrzej Duda. However, Merkel's spokesman said on Friday that Polish officials had cited "scheduling problems," and that the meeting would not now take place. 

Duda was instead due to visit the southern Polish city of Katowice to mark the anniversary of the anti-communist trade union, Solidarity.

Growing crisis at Belarus-EU border

The change of schedule took place immediately after Russia announced that Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that will carry natural gas from Russia to Germany, had been completed.

Merkel has visited Germany's neighbor more than two dozen times since coming to power in 2005.

mm,mvb/dj(dpa, AP)