Europe Facing Conflicts In Poland And Balkans (Worthy News Analysis)


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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent reporting from Budapest, Hungary

(Worthy News) – As focused on the pandemic, it overlooked looming military conflicts in its eastern backyard from the Polish-Belarus border to the Balkans.

On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused Belarus of committing “terrorism” over its role in an escalating deadly border row between the two countries.

Some 2,000 migrants fleeing , persecution, and poverty, including women and children, remain trapped between Polish and Belarusian forces in freezing temperatures.

Morawiecki says Belarus is seeking a military confrontation by inviting migrants to enter the European Union’s pressure illegally. Brussels claims Belarus uses migrants as “weapons” to destabilize the .

It says Minsk wants to punish the EU for imposing against the regime of autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko over its poor record.

Morawiecki has also accused , a Belarus ally, of supporting the migrant influx as it too faces EU sanctions, charges Moscow denies.

MIGRANTS DIE

Amid the standoff, at least eight migrants already died due to exhaustion and hypothermia, according to the United Nations and aid workers.

Clashes already broke out between forces and migrants near Poland’s border fences as desperate people tried to enter. “We don’t want to stay in Poland; we want to go to ,” a man shouted.

Some 12,000 additional troops were sent to the borders of Poland, a member state of both the EU and the U.S.-led NATO military alliance, authorities said.

Nearby Baltic states are also concerned with Lithuania announcing an overnight state of emergency at its borders.

Border conflicts are also rapidly escaping in the Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the United States tries to prevent a war amid regional frustration with the EU’s efforts.

Gabriel Escobar, the U.S. special envoy to the Western Balkans, ended a two-day visit amid signs of tensions that officials say resemble the start of the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995.

SERB ARMY

Milorad Dodik, the current Serb representative in the country’s threeway presidency, has been threatening to create a breakaway Serb army. He was also boycotting the country’s central institutions and pledged to withdraw Bosnian Serbs from central institutions.

His campaign started after a law was passed in July banning denial of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide by Serb forces in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed.

Dodik has refused to recognize Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two as genocide. Critics view his actions as akin to a call for war, but he received support in recent weeks from other right-wing populists in Europe. He met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Saturday and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša on Sunday ahead of Escobar’s visit.

Both leaders have previously echoed Dodik’s sentiments regarding Muslims who they claim “invade Europe.”

The tensions come on top of border disputes between nearby Serbia and Kosovo. Belgrade still regards Kosovo as its province and has refused to recognize its independence.

With growing nationalist and migrant tensions in Europe, it remained unclear whether NATO has enough troops in Eastern Europe and the Balkans to prevent conflicts threatening to engulf Europe.

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