Ilves: Ignoring Eastern Europe will not end well

Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves sharply criticizes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's two phone calls to Alexander Lukashenko and says that ignoring eastern EU member states can lead to unfortunate consequences.

"The idea of stepping in without consulting other member states, making promises – provided it is true that Merkel has agreed to transport 2,000 migrants through Poland – brilliant! But was any of it discussed with Poland first? I do not know, I have heard nothing from the Poles. We have seen nothing from Poland," Ilves told ERR.

"What we have seen is that countries like ours, Eastern Europe, EU partners in the east are overlooked. Especially in recent years, even though the trend has been visible for some time," Ilves said.

"In any case, this complete lack of regard for states in the east – as if we were second-rate countries – I don't know why it is being done, but it will not end well. Eastern European countries of which there are quite a few and that have a lot of people will eventually get angry and start blocking things. Because what other choice do we have if we are not consulted and when a single country decides matters without consulting others in the EU," the former head of state said.

The German Chancellor spoke over the phone to Lukashenko on Monday and Wednesday, even though democratic states do not recognize the latter as a legitimate president and have refrained from contacts for over a year.

"What happened – those two calls (between Merkel and Lukashenko – ed.) – is nothing new. We saw the jealousy U.S. President Joe Biden meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin caused in spring. Calls of 'us too, us too!' were heard, even though the difference between Biden's meeting and those of Merkel and Macron was that Biden's team spent four months preparing for it. It was jealousy pure and simple," Ilves suggested.

The West has not recognized Lukashenko as the president of Belarus after he stole the 2020 election and brutally put down the opposition's protests.

The Belarusian regime under Lukashenko has orchestrated the arrival of thousands of people from the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan in Belarus to send them over its western border toward EU countries. Because Poland and Lithuania have refused to allow them entry, while the authorities in Belarus are not allowing them to return, people find themselves trapped on the border, suffering from cold and shortages of essential items.

Lukashenko and his ally Putin have denied allegations of having caused the migration crisis and are criticizing the EU for refusing to take the migrants in. The migrants say they are looking to reach Germany through Poland, while Lukashenko has said he is ready to fly them there.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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