Lukashenko and Merkel agree to hold talks with the European Union on the migrant crisis in Belarus

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed to start negotiations at the European level to resolve the ongoing crisis on their common border, Minsk said on Wednesday.

Lukashenko’s office said the two leaders agreed “that the problem should be raised to the level (relations) between Belarus and the European Union and that officials appointed by each side should start negotiations immediately.”

A spokesman for Merkel said that the chancellor “stressed during her last phone call the need to work with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.” [the United Nation’s Refugee Agency] and the United Nations Migration Agency and in cooperation with the European Union Commission to provide humanitarian care and return opportunities for the persons concerned.”

This announcement comes a day after the bloc announced that it will impose a new and fifth set of sanctions on Belarus due to the crisis.

The European Union accuses the Belarusian authorities of orchestrating the crisis at the border by attracting people from Middle Eastern and African countries to Minsk, and has vowed that they will be able to cross the borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Poland claims that more than 15,000 migrants were recently transferred to Minsk and sent to the country’s borders.

Lukashenko denies the accusation.

The three European Union countries neighboring Belarus have declared a state of emergency at their borders due to the influx.

The situation has deteriorated in recent weeks, with Belarus and Poland accused of carrying out illegal pushbacks, groups of migrants stranded between the two countries and sleeping in sub-zero temperatures.

At least 10 people have been killed at the border since late summer.

Lukashenko and Merkel discussed the crisis during a 50-minute phone call on Monday. Minsk said in Read the call “Means and prospects for solving the problem of migrants were discussed at length in order to prevent an escalation of the situation at the borders,” he said.

She added, “Another important aspect that the Belarusian president and the acting German chancellor talked about is the humanitarian support for refugees by providing them with humanitarian aid.”

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