Following a European Union diplomatic intervention as a result of the ongoing migrant crisis on the Poland-Belarus border, Turkish Airlines has suspended one-way ticket sales to Belarus. It is also banning Syrian and Iraqi nationals from boarding its flights to Minsk, except for holders of diplomatic passports. Belavia and Iraqi Airways are also affected.
Turkish Airlines restricts ticket sales
Turkish Airlines is banning one-way ticket sales to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, until further notice. It will also impose nationality-based restrictions on who is allowed to travel on its flights to Minsk, Reuters reports.
Turkish Airlines is also banning nationals from Syria, Yemen, and Iraq from traveling to Belarus. Belavia, the Belarusian flag carrier, will do the same, both under pressure from the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority.
Why is Turkish Airlines imposing the restrictions?
The migrant crisis on the Poland-Belarus border is intensifying after Belarus became a popular entry point for migrants intending to claim asylum in the European Union by crossing into Poland from Belarus. The decision of the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, to spark a crisis on the Polish border is seen as an act of revenge aimed at the EU, The Guardian reports. It also follows the forced grounding of a Ryanair flight in Belarus.
As a result, the European Commission has put pressure on foreign governments whose countries have played a role in intensifying this crisis, and the diplomatic talks have resulted in several announcements earlier today.
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Belavia and Iraqi Airways are also affected
As a result of the European Union’s talks with Turkey, Turkish Airlines and Belavia are having to ban nationals from Syria, Yemen, and Iraq on their flights to Minsk.
EU officials have also held talks with Iraq, and these have resulted in Iraqi Airways promising it would not fly to Minsk.
Talks are still ongoing with the United Arab Emirates to restrict migrant flows coming through Dubai. Dubai, along with Istanbul and Damascus, is one of three main entry points into Belarus for migrants asylum-seekers in the European Union arriving from Iraq.
Talks are also being held between the European Union and Lebanon because many of the migrants arriving at the EU’s Eastern border have originated from Lebanon, which hosts an extraordinary number of refugees within its borders; the highest number on a per capita basis.
The Iraqi Government has also announced that it would be organizing repatriation flights for Iraqi citizens to return from Belarus, now that they are not being able to claim asylum in the European Union as they remain stuck in Belarus.
These claims are being processed by the Iraqi Embassy in Moscow, and no repatriation flights have been scheduled yet. Iraq does not allow the involuntary deportation of its citizens.
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