EU values, laws under threat amid standoff at Belarus border

Brussels: Fears that the authoritarian leader of Belarus is using migrants as a hybrid warfare tactic to undermine the security of the European Union are putting new strains on some of the values and laws in the 27-nation bloc.

The crisis at the eastern frontiers of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia is fuelling calls for the EU to finance the construction of something it never wanted to build: fences and walls at the border.

And this idea was voiced this week at a ceremony commemorating the fall of one of Europe's most notorious and historic barriers, the Berlin Wall.

The border crisis with Belarus has been simmering for months. Top EU officials say that President Alexander Lukashenko, angered by EU sanctions imposed on his regime after a crackdown on internal dissent following a disputed election in 2020, is luring thousands of migrants to Minsk with the promise of help to get to western Europe. Belarus denies it is using them as pawns.

The crisis came to a head after large groups of migrants gathered at a border crossing with Belarus near Kuznica, Poland. Warsaw bolstered security there, sending in riot police to turn back those who tried to cut through a razor-wire fence.

Polish lawmakers introduced a state of emergency and changed the country's asylum laws. Only troops have access to the area, to the dismay of refugee agencies and Poland's EU partners. Lithuania is taking similar measures and has begun extending its border fence.

The EU's executive branch, the European Commission, believes walls and barriers are ineffective, and has so far resisted calls to fund them, although it will pay for infrastructure like surveillance cameras and equipment. In the heightened security climate, that attitude may be chan-


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