‘Wet biscuits’ EU slammed as Verhofstadt calls for bloc power grab on state elections

Belarus: Lukashenko leaves stage following press conference

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The Belgian MEP claimed the EU should officially recognise Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the legitimate president of Belarus in response to the dictatorial approach of President Lukashenko. He tweeted: “1 year after the stolen election in Belarus, Lukashenko taking hundreds of political prisoners & using migrants as weapon… time to dramatically increase the pressure.

“A powerful signal would be EU to officially recognise Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as legitimate president of Belarus!”

But his comments backfired as Twitter users were quick to point out the inability of the bloc to have a meaningful impact on foreign affairs.

One user replied: “But they won’t because they have as much real power as a wet biscuit.”

And another: “Sadly the EU hasn’t been successful in curbing the anti-democratic excesses in Hungary so I don’t hold out much hope of it being successful with Belarus either.”

One social media user added: “When will you realise the EU is a costly bureaucratic nightmare who’s completely impotent. It does absolutely nothing until 27 states agree & Hungary will veto.

“But at least it’s made a multi-millionaire of you…”

Another wrote: “When was the last time the EU decided on any outcome anywhere in the world?”

Others pointed out the bloc’s power grab on foreign elections would be received as an anti-democratic tool itself.

One person wrote: “EU or foreign entities cannot decide who won elections, or who is legitimate authorities. I will give you a hint: you will be doing the same that you are accusing Lukashenko of doing.”

Another person made reference to the EU’s own anti-democratic traits by looking at the Netherlands.

They wrote: “I despise Lukachenko but what exactly is the difference with a Dutch government not respecting the result of voting on membership of the EU. The people voted against the current membership. Politicians set bad examples.”

It comes as Latvia declared a state of emergency along its border on Tuesday and Lithuania decided to erect a fence in new measures to deter migrants.

The nations say Belarus is encouraging migrants to cross illegally in order to pressure European states.

Rising numbers of migrants have reached Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, which accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of using the issue to press the EU to reverse sanctions.

Poland says Belarus is retaliating against Warsaw’s decision this week to give refuge to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics.

Belarus in May decided to let migrants enter Lithuania in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land on its soil and arrested a dissident blogger on board. Lukashenko said Belarus would not become a “holding site” for migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

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On Tuesday, the Latvian government declared a state of emergency in border areas, which allows its military and police to support border guards.

The border guard, armed forces and police will be authorised to instruct illegal immigrants to return to the country they came from, and use physical force if they refuse, the Baltic News Service (BNS) said.

The state of emergency runs from Wednesday until Nov. 10 and requires the approval of parliament, which is expected on Thursday.

Some 283 people have been detained for illegally crossing into Latvia from Belarus since Aug. 6, BNS said, bringing the total for the year to 343 people.

In neighbouring Lithuania, parliament voted to build a four-metre (13 feet) metal fence topped with razor wire on 508 km (316 miles) of the 670 km border it shares with Belarus.

“Without this physical barrier, it is impossible to protect our borders, it is very clear,” Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite told Reuters.

The Lithuanian parliament also voted to allow the military to patrol the border alongside frontier guards and to turn back people deemed to have crossed illegally.

Those wanting to claim asylum must now do so at an official border crossing or at an embassy.

So far this year 4,026 people have illegally crossed into Lithuania, a country of 2.8 million, from Belarus, the Lithuanian interior ministry said last week, compared with 74 in total in 2020.

Most come from Iraq, followed by the Republic of Congo and Cameroon, according to the Lithuanian Border Guard. Lithuania says Belarus allows them to head for the Lithuanian border after they have flown to the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

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