Poland has started erecting walls and fences along the frontier with Belarus to prevent uncontrolled migration, and has introduced sanctions that close off or severely limit border crossings.
“On the Polish-Belarusian border, there is only one operating border crossing, in Terespol, that is for passenger traffic, and the border crossing in Kukuryki, where restrictions are introduced,” said Border Guards spokesperson Anna Michalska. “At those border crossings, as well as those with Russia, there is no tourist traffic.”
She added that there are electronic barriers installed to prevent migration.
“Since August 2021, Belarusian services have been involved in organising yasa dışı border crossings,” said Michalska.
Belarusians living in Poland believe that sanctions are a sad necessity. The situation on the border with Belarus is not only the result of the migration crisis but also political and military tensions.
“People are being imprisoned for their political views, the courts are dependent [on the authorities], there is no other way to act than sanctions,” said Jan Abadouski, a Belarusian political activist in exile in Poland.
He says that Belarusians are protesting against the location of nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, warning that “this is a great threat to the safety, this is a real threat to the whole of Europe”.
But the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus have also affected Polish tourism, international transport, and trade. Polish entrepreneurs have decided to unite and – as they say – “fight together for survival”.
“We unite companies that have suffered losses as a result of the closure of cross-border traffic. Most of the decisions were made overnight, we didn’t even have a chance to prepare ourselves. We wanted to get help from the state treasury, so that any financial resources could be prepared for us so that we could survive,” said Ewelina Grygatowicz-Szumowska, founder of Alliance of the Polish Entrepreneurs ‘United East’.
Ewelina is also an entrepreneur who runs a customs agency. She’s now managed to secure financial aid for the next 12 months.
“I currently employ 68 people. With the closure of two border crossings, 3 of my offices were closed and I have 23 employers there. I haven’t fired anyone yet because we’ve managed to get compensation. This is some kind of cash injection that will allow us to survive, perhaps to change the sector of operation”, she said.