(CNN)Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s willful manipulation of migrants, enabling their easy passage to and through his country toward the border of the European Union, is a classic assault on democracy by an autocrat who knows that any attempt to fight back risks undermining the bloc’s sacred values.

Lukashenko denies the condemnation made by the G7 group of the world’s wealthiest democracies that he is orchestrating “irregular migration” in an “aggressive and exploitative” campaign — just as he rejects the European Union’s accusation that his re-election as president last year, his sixth consecutive five-year term, was a sham.Not for nothing is the aging autocrat known outside of Belarus as Europe’s last dictator.The victims of the Belarus border crisis were obvious. For Poland's government, it was a useful distractionThe victims of the Belarus border crisis were obvious. For Poland's government, it was a useful distractionThe victims of the Belarus border crisis were obvious. For Poland's government, it was a useful distractionFor much of this month, the world watched as weary migrants, some with small children and mainly from the Middle East, were coaxed and coerced in freezing conditions to a forest border with the EU. Their rising anger at not being allowed to cross erupted at times as they hurled volleys of rocks at Polish border guards who eventually spewed water cannon fire back at them.In a revealing interview with CNN last week, Lukashenko’s foreign minister, Vladimir Makei, exposed the psychology behind his boss’s decision to launch a frontal attack on Europe’s borders. “Belarus has shown the dark side of the European democracy,” he claimed.Polish police officers are seen on the Belarusian-Polish border. Polish police officers are seen on the Belarusian-Polish border. Polish police officers are seen on the Belarusian-Polish border. Read MoreUS President Joe Biden made it an early theme of his term in office, that democracy is under attack. “We’re at an inflection point,” he told an audience in Germany in February. “We must demonstrate that democracy can still deliver for our people in this changed world. That, in my view, is our galvanizing mission.”But how to deliver on that mission is something that has yet to be mastered. Biden promised a “summit of democracies” “early” in his presidency, it is due to take place next month, although details are sketchy. Biden’s leverage is waning among allies, due to diplomatic missteps such as the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and the AUKUS security pact with Australia and the UK that marginalized France. Meanwhile, autocrats like Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to be exploiting the opportunity to divide, discourage and sow dissent in the democracies closest to them, in Europe.When Belarusian foreign minister Makei told CNN that: “Poland has violated all the possible international legal laws and democratic values,” he turned logic on its head by ignoring Lukashenko’s autocratic practices, such as what some governments condemned as the illegal “hijacking” of a commercial airliner that was diverted to Minsk, and arresting a Belarus opposition activist who was on board.Cynically crying wolf, while wilfully ignoring their own violations is a convenience that autocracies routinely use to cover their tracks. Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region and heading towards the Polish border crossing in Kuznica on November 15.Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region and heading towards the Polish border crossing in Kuznica on November 15.Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region and heading towards the Polish border crossing in Kuznica on November 15.On the face of it, how can the EU that champions human rights turn its back on migrants, less still turn water cannons on them? Human Rights groups have criticized Poland for preventing journalists from having access to the border region, and for allegedly pushing migrants who had successfully made it across the razor wire fence back into Belarus. It is the caring side of democracy, that values human rights and decency, that Biden and others fear autocracies exploit. At one point last week, Lukashenko’s government proposed that Germany should take in 2,000 migrants and Belarus would handle the rest.According to Lukashenko’s foreign minister, both his boss and Putin were pushing Merkel into some sort of deal. “It was President Putin who tried to contribute to the settlement of this crisis. He had conversations with Chancellor Merkel, he had conversations with President Lukashenko and as a result of these conversations, the phone calls between Merkel and Lukashenko were organized.”Tensions are rising on the Poland-Belarus border. Here's what you need to knowTensions are rising on the Poland-Belarus border. Here's what you need to knowTensions are rising on the Poland-Belarus border. Here's what you need to knowWhatever the detail of those conversations, Merkel and her EU partners saw through the ruse and refused to play ball. Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer later said firmly: “We will not take in refugees. We will not bow to the pressure and say: ‘We are taking refugees into European countries,’ because this would mean implementing the very basis of this perfidious strategy.” This, it turns out, is not “the dark side of the European democracy,” as Makei claims, but the EU’s reality check on what it sees as Lukashenko’s lies.But will that matter for Lukashenko and Putin? Of course not. They thrive in a hybrid of hubris and confusion where doubt replaces certainty, and besmirching democracy’s moral purpose is a victory in and of itself.Exploiting democracyWhile the fabricated crisis has — so far — failed to divide the EU, little of what’s happened is a waste for the two autocrats, in that it helps prop up their own illegitimate rule. For their home audiences, the whipped-up confection of half truths about alleged mistreatment by border guards and their water cannons is enough to mislead some people into believing that the other side is no better than them.Lukashenko is exploiting democracy’s core value — compassion — by weaponizing migrant trauma to turn the EU’s moral strength to vulnerability. Europe’s real weakness, that he appears to assess, is not its physical borders but its principles. In pictures: The Poland-Belarus border crisisIn pictures: The Poland-Belarus border crisis Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants settle for the night on Thursday, November 18, in a warehouse near the Bruzgi-Kuźnica crossing serving as an ad hoc processing center.Migrants settle for the night on Thursday, November 18, in a warehouse near the Bruzgi-Kuźnica crossing serving as an ad hoc processing center. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants settle for the night on Thursday, November 18, in a warehouse near the Bruzgi-Kuźnica crossing serving as an ad hoc processing center.Hide Caption 1 of 32The area near the boarder that served as a makeshift camp is deserted after border guards have moved the migrants to the warehouse. The area near the boarder that served as a makeshift camp is deserted after border guards have moved the migrants to the warehouse. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisThe area near the boarder that served as a makeshift camp is deserted after border guards have moved the migrants to the warehouse. Hide Caption 2 of 32A handout picture released by Iraqi ministry of transportation on November 18, shows of Iraqi migrants boarding an Iraqi Airways plane at the Minsk airport in the Belarusian capital, to be flown to Arbil, Iraq. A handout picture released by Iraqi ministry of transportation on November 18, shows of Iraqi migrants boarding an Iraqi Airways plane at the Minsk airport in the Belarusian capital, to be flown to Arbil, Iraq. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA handout picture released by Iraqi ministry of transportation on November 18, shows of Iraqi migrants boarding an Iraqi Airways plane at the Minsk airport in the Belarusian capital, to be flown to Arbil, Iraq. Hide Caption 3 of 32Migrants get a hot meal near the Bruzgi checkpoint on the Polish border on Tuesday, November 17, after a shelter was set up in a warehouse.Migrants get a hot meal near the Bruzgi checkpoint on the Polish border on Tuesday, November 17, after a shelter was set up in a warehouse. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants get a hot meal near the Bruzgi checkpoint on the Polish border on Tuesday, November 17, after a shelter was set up in a warehouse.Hide Caption 4 of 32Migrants line up near the border crossing with Poland to get food and drink. Migrants line up near the border crossing with Poland to get food and drink. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants line up near the border crossing with Poland to get food and drink. Hide Caption 5 of 32Polish border guards use a water cannon on migrants during clashes at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 16.Polish border guards use a water cannon on migrants during clashes at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 16. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisPolish border guards use a water cannon on migrants during clashes at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 16.Hide Caption 6 of 32Migrants throw stones at Polish border guards at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 16.Migrants throw stones at Polish border guards at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 16. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants throw stones at Polish border guards at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 16.Hide Caption 7 of 32A man runs from a water cannon used by Polish border guards on Tuesday, November 16.A man runs from a water cannon used by Polish border guards on Tuesday, November 16. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA man runs from a water cannon used by Polish border guards on Tuesday, November 16.Hide Caption 8 of 32Migrants gather near the border on Monday, November 15.Migrants gather near the border on Monday, November 15. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants gather near the border on Monday, November 15.Hide Caption 9 of 32Migrants gather at a checkpoint near the border on Monday, November 15.Migrants gather at a checkpoint near the border on Monday, November 15. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants gather at a checkpoint near the border on Monday, November 15.Hide Caption 10 of 32A man holds a child at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Monday, November 15.A man holds a child at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Monday, November 15. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA man holds a child at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Monday, November 15.Hide Caption 11 of 32Migrants sit in front of Polish troops at the border crossing on Monday, November 15.Migrants sit in front of Polish troops at the border crossing on Monday, November 15. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants sit in front of Polish troops at the border crossing on Monday, November 15.Hide Caption 12 of 32Migrants are seen near the border in the Grodno region of Belarus on Saturday, November 13.Migrants are seen near the border in the Grodno region of Belarus on Saturday, November 13. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants are seen near the border in the Grodno region of Belarus on Saturday, November 13.Hide Caption 13 of 32A family rests at a camp set up in the Grodno region on Saturday, November 13.A family rests at a camp set up in the Grodno region on Saturday, November 13. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA family rests at a camp set up in the Grodno region on Saturday, November 13.Hide Caption 14 of 32Migrants gather to receive humanitarian aid at a border camp on Friday, November 12. Migrants gather to receive humanitarian aid at a border camp on Friday, November 12. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants gather to receive humanitarian aid at a border camp on Friday, November 12. Hide Caption 15 of 32A Polish military helicopter lands next to troops near the border on Friday, November 12. A Polish military helicopter lands next to troops near the border on Friday, November 12. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA Polish military helicopter lands next to troops near the border on Friday, November 12. Hide Caption 16 of 32A group of migrants rests by a fire on Saturday, November 13.A group of migrants rests by a fire on Saturday, November 13. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA group of migrants rests by a fire on Saturday, November 13.Hide Caption 17 of 32Migrants wait near the border crossing on Wednesday, November 10.Migrants wait near the border crossing on Wednesday, November 10. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants wait near the border crossing on Wednesday, November 10.Hide Caption 18 of 32Migrants gather near the border in this satellite photo taken on Wednesday, November 10.Migrants gather near the border in this satellite photo taken on Wednesday, November 10. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants gather near the border in this satellite photo taken on Wednesday, November 10.Hide Caption 19 of 32A soldier from the Polish Armed Forces patrols the border crossing on Tuesday, November 9.A soldier from the Polish Armed Forces patrols the border crossing on Tuesday, November 9. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA soldier from the Polish Armed Forces patrols the border crossing on Tuesday, November 9.Hide Caption 20 of 32Young migrants gather at a tent camp near the border on Thursday, November 11.Young migrants gather at a tent camp near the border on Thursday, November 11. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisYoung migrants gather at a tent camp near the border on Thursday, November 11.Hide Caption 21 of 32Humvees with the Polish Army travel to the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Thursday, November 11.Humvees with the Polish Army travel to the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Thursday, November 11. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisHumvees with the Polish Army travel to the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Thursday, November 11.Hide Caption 22 of 32Migrants warm themselves by a fire on Wednesday, November 10.Migrants warm themselves by a fire on Wednesday, November 10. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants warm themselves by a fire on Wednesday, November 10.Hide Caption 23 of 32Migrants rest near a fire near the border on Wednesday, November 10.Migrants rest near a fire near the border on Wednesday, November 10. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants rest near a fire near the border on Wednesday, November 10.Hide Caption 24 of 32Migrants stay at a tent camp near Grodno on Wednesday, November 10.Migrants stay at a tent camp near Grodno on Wednesday, November 10. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants stay at a tent camp near Grodno on Wednesday, November 10.Hide Caption 25 of 32Young migrants peer out of a tent on Monday, November 8.Young migrants peer out of a tent on Monday, November 8. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisYoung migrants peer out of a tent on Monday, November 8.Hide Caption 26 of 32Migrants gather near the border on Monday, November 8.Migrants gather near the border on Monday, November 8. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants gather near the border on Monday, November 8.Hide Caption 27 of 32A child's cap, diapers and clothing lie in an abandoned migrant camp on Thursday, November 11.A child's cap, diapers and clothing lie in an abandoned migrant camp on Thursday, November 11. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA child’s cap, diapers and clothing lie in an abandoned migrant camp on Thursday, November 11.Hide Caption 28 of 32Migrants receive food and water on Wednesday, November 10.Migrants receive food and water on Wednesday, November 10. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants receive food and water on Wednesday, November 10.Hide Caption 29 of 32Polish army vehicles are seen near the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 9.Polish army vehicles are seen near the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 9. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisPolish army vehicles are seen near the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on Tuesday, November 9.Hide Caption 30 of 32A young migrant from Dohuk, Iraq, waits to be escorted by Polish border guards on Tuesday, November 9.A young migrant from Dohuk, Iraq, waits to be escorted by Polish border guards on Tuesday, November 9. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisA young migrant from Dohuk, Iraq, waits to be escorted by Polish border guards on Tuesday, November 9.Hide Caption 31 of 32Migrants walk near the Polish border on Monday, November 8.Migrants walk near the Polish border on Monday, November 8. Photos: The Poland-Belarus border crisisMigrants walk near the Polish border on Monday, November 8.Hide Caption 32 of 3203 belarus border crisis 02 belarus border crisis 1118 04 belarus border crisis 1118 01 belarus border crisis 1117 03 belarus border crisis 1117 07 poland belarus border 111601 poland belarus border 111602 poland belarus border 111606b poland belarus border 111501 poland belarus border 11 15 202105 poland belarus border 11 15 202102 poland belarus border 11 15 202101 Poland Belarus border crisis 111402 Poland Belarus border crisis 111403b poland belarus border migrants 111204 poland belarus border 111203 Poland Belarus border crisis 111402 belarus poland border03 belarus poland border04 belarus poland borde05 belarus poland border06 belarus poland border01 belarus poland borde07 belarus poland border08 belarus poland border09 belarus poland border10 belarus poland border11 belarus poland border12 belarus poland border.13 belarus poland border14 belarus poland border15 belarus poland borderBut the real pernicious injury of Lukashenko’s ruses is inflicted on the heart of democracy itself. To fight off his assault on democracy, the EU is forced into taking a firm stand and rejecting the 2,000 migrants. It is logical, but only borderline moral. It stoops toward Lukashenko’s level and treats those desperate people as pawns.It is this often complicated issue that Biden wants us to explore by illuminating what democracy has at stake in the fight ahead.Inside the European Union, the main effect of Lukashenko’s machinations will be to risk raising the specter of migrants at the border even beyond the pre-existing vexing reality — a situation that has already fueled populist nationalism.At his inaugural address Biden used the word democracy five times in his introduction, and 11 times during his whole speech. It was at the forefront of his mind as he spoke at the spot where, just two weeks earlier, the United States’ first attempted coup had unfolded. Looking out on Washington’s flag-strewn Mall, his words broadcast into millions of living rooms and autocrats’ offices around the world, Biden warned: “We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile.” It has become even clearer since then that democracy’s trials are far from over, both in the United States and around the world. Now, leaders must convert their well-meaning words into actions.

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/23/europe/democracy-under-attack-belarus-intl-cmd/index.html

400 Request Header Or Cookie Too Large

400 Bad Request

Request Header Or Cookie Too Large

Comments

comments

Advertisement