Poland's current border crisis and territorial politics

The border crisis between Poland and Belarus is discussed to evaluate whether the motives are genuine or less-so.

Elizabeth Meade
10th December 2021
Combination of the flags of Belarus and Poland. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.
At the moment, massive numbers of people are attempting to enter Poland from Belarus. Polish forces have deployed tear gas and water cannons to prevent their entry. What are the politics behind this?

Both countries in this scenario have been making accusations. Poland has argued that Belarus is trying to destabilize the EU by sending these people across. Belarus meanwhile argues that the EU is uncaring. Both of these accusations imply that this migration is a matter of political strategy rather than one of the safety of the people crossing.

Most people would consider this treatment of migrants unacceptable, but Poland insists it is because those on the Belarusian side of the border threw rocks at guards, likely in self-defense. However, Belarus' strategy is highly concerning as well. Most of those hoping to enter the EU are from countries outside of Belarus, such as Iraq, and were given visas in large quantities. Belarus has been accused of trying to destabilise the EU, thus suggesting the entire scenario was politically-motivated and not a genuine attempt to help help anyone seeking to emigrate. Belarus' strategy of trying to look like the hero is transparent, as neither country is being helpful.

This situation implies that modern territorial politics aren't really about the best interests of citizens. These political moves are mostly about having the most power and sending that message to other powerful leaders. This can involve making one's own country look good with false gestures of goodwill, as Belarus is doing here. It can also involve turning away anyone who wants to enter in order to preserve a flawed set of values.

There isn't a simple way out of this situation. Poland and the EU should allow those seeking safety to enter, but we shouldn't pretend Belarus did something truly selfless by providing visas. Both countries' policies are worthy of criticism, and it's time to see the artifice of territorial politics for what it is.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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