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Poland’s prime minister vows to strengthen security at EU border with Belarus

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Saturday traveled to the country’s border with Belarus, which is also the European Union’s external border with the autocratic state, and pledged to do more to strengthen security along its entire eastern frontier.

Tusk accused Belarus, Russia’s ally, of intensifying what he called a “hybrid war” against the West by encouraging migrants to try to cross into the EU. He vowed that Poland would spare no expense on its border security.

“I know that there are more and more illegal crossings every day,” Tusk told reporters at the border, where he met with Polish army soldiers, border guard officers and police. He also cited “the growing threat resulting from the Russian-Ukrainian war, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the uncertain geopolitical situation.”

The visit to the border, Tusk’s first since he took office in December, comes after a Polish judge defected to Belarus this month. He claimed he was facing persecution in Poland, a democracy, but officials have denounced him as a traitor and he is being investigated on suspicion of espionage.

Tusk replaced a national conservative party at odds with the EU over rule of law issues. That party, Law and Justice, took a strong stance against migration in a way that set it at odds with other European allies when it first took power in 2015.

Since then, though, the general mood against migration across Europe has toughened. While Tusk does not use some of the harsh anti-migrant rhetoric of his predecessors, he too is opposed to unregulated migration.

“This is not only Poland’s internal border, but also the border of the European Union. Therefore, I have no doubt that all of Europe will have to — and I know that we will achieve this — invest in its security by investing in Poland’s eastern border and in the security of our border,” Tusk said.

He added that he made a declaration to the commanders of the security forces at the border “there are no limits on resources when it comes to Poland’s security.”

The visit comes weeks ahead of next month’s elections for the European Parliament, and Tusk seemed intent on sending a message to voters that his political party, Civic Coalition, favors border security and supports the uniformed officers there.

“I came today primarily so that both commanders and their subordinates have no doubt that the Polish state and the Polish government are with them in every situation, here at the border,” he said.

A crisis erupted along the EU’s eastern border with Belarus in 2021 when large numbers of migrants from the Middle East and Africa began arriving there. The EU accused Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging the migration to destabilize the EU after it imposed sanctions on the country for an election widely viewed as fraudulent.

Poland’s previous government responded to the crisis by constructing a tall steel wall.

By VANESSA GERA
Associated Press

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