The Polish-Belarusian frontier will be the most secure external border of the Schengen zone, a deputy interior minister has claimed owing to a new fence that now separates the two countries.
The construction of the barrier came in response to a migration crisis which started in the spring of 2021 and saw thousands of migrants trying to get into Poland.
Warsaw has claimed that Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, manufactured the crisis in an attempt to destabilise Poland and the EU in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Brussels.
According to Maciej Wasik, a deputy minister of internal affairs and administration, the hybrid attack from Belarus was co-prepared with the Russian secret services.
“We have no doubts that these activities were in some way aimed at destabilising Europe ahead of Russia’s attack on Ukraine… and culminated last autumn when around 40,000 people attempted to illegally cross the Belarusian-Polish border,” he said on Thursday.
The new border fence, was completed in the summer. The 186-km barrier consists of a five-metre-high steel fence topped with razor wire. Its cost about PLN 1.6 billion (EUR 337 million) to build.
The next stage of the fence, an “electronic barrier,” comprising of cameras, thermal-vision surveillance equipment and sensors, will be completed by the end of November, with the first stretch of this electronic surveillance infrastructure ready on November 11, according to Wasik.
“It looks like the Polish-Belarusian border will be the most secure border of the Schengen zone,” he said.
He said since the barrier was put up Poland has seen “a huge decline in illegal migration,” and quoted Border Guard statistics showing that, while in October 2021 there were around 17,500 illegal crossing attempts from Belarus, this year, by October 24 it was only 1,820.
“Yes, there is still (illegal migration – PAP), still inspired by the Belarusian services, but we are aware that it is part of a huge migration movement that is pushing towards Europe,” Wasik said.
He added that “however, on the northern route that Lukashenko wanted to exploit with Putin, through Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, he was stopped.”
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