Germany: Iraqi Airlines May Face Sanctions if Carry Potential Refugees From Minsk to EU
14:02 GMT 22.10.2021 (Updated: 14:08 GMT 22.10.2021)
BERLIN (Sputnik) - Germany warned the Iraqi authorities of the potential criminal implications and a review of licenses for Iraqi airlines in case of their involvement in operations to transport refugees to the European Union through Belarus, the German interior ministry said on Friday.
On Wednesday, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that the Iraqi authorities would not perform flights that could carry potential refugees to the Belarusian capital of Minsk at least until the end of the year at the EU request.
"We indicated that airlines' involvement in these, supposedly organized, operations to transport refugees could lead to criminal implications and to the revision of their rights to enter airspace and land at least. We were so successful in these negotiations that some airlines distanced themselves from these activities," ministry spokesman Steve Alter told a briefing.
The spokesman refused to provide details of the intergovernmental negotiations.
The German Ministry of Internal Affairs has vowed to press other countries believed to be facilitating illegal migrant transfer to take similar measures as Iraq.
German outgoing Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Friday that "transportation" of migrants via Belarus poses a hybrid threat as Minsk has been using these people as a "political tool".
Germany remains the most popular European destination for migrants. The migrant flow from Belarus has added to the strain in recent months. Most of those coming from Belarus are Syrians and Iraqis, and more recently Pakistanis, Egyptians and Jordanians. Germany fails to bolster security on its borders as any limits would breach the EU's freedom of movement rules.