For most of this month, the world has witnessed weary immigrants, some with children, mainly from the Middle East, being coaxed and coerced into the forest border with the European Union in cold conditions. When they threw stones at the Polish border guards, their anger at not being allowed to cross the border erupted from time to time, and the Polish border guards eventually sprayed water cannons at them.
In an interview with CNN last week, Lukashenko’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei revealed the psychology behind his boss’s decision to launch a frontal attack on the European border. “Belarus shows the dark side of European democracy,” he claimed.
US President Joe Biden made the attack on democracy an early theme of his term. “We are at a turning point,” he told an audience in Germany in February. “We must prove that in this changed world, democracy can still serve our people. In my opinion, this is our inspiring mission.”
Biden’s influence among allies is waning due to diplomatic errors, such as the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan’s chaos and the AUKUS security agreement signed with Australia and the United Kingdom to marginalize France. At the same time, dictators like Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin seem to be using this opportunity to split, discourage and spread dissent in the democratic countries closest to them in Europe.
When the Belarusian Foreign Minister Makkyi told CNN: “Poland violated all possible international laws and democratic values”, he ignored Lukashenko’s authoritarian practices, such as the illegal “hijacking” that some governments condemned to transfer to Minsk. Commercial airliner and arrested a Belarusian opposition activist on board.
The cynical wolf is here, and deliberately ignores his own irregularities. This is a convenience used by autocratic rulers to cover up their actions.
On the surface, how can the EU, which defends human rights, ignore immigrants, let alone fire water cannons on them? Human rights groups criticized Poland for preventing journalists from entering the border area and allegedly pushed back to Belarus the migrants who successfully crossed the barbed wire fence.
Biden and others are afraid that dictators will use the caring aspects of democracy to value human rights and decency. Once last week, the Lukashenko government proposed that Germany accept 2,000 immigrants, and Belarus would handle the rest.
According to Lukashenko’s foreign minister, his boss and Putin are pushing Merkel to reach some kind of agreement. “President Putin tried to contribute to the solution of this crisis. He talked with Chancellor Merkel, he talked with President Lukashenko, and because of these conversations, the phone call between Merkel and Lukashenko was able to organization.”
Regardless of the details of these conversations, Merkel and her EU partners have seen through the trick and refused to play. German Interior Minister Horst Sihofer later firmly stated: “We will not accept refugees. We will not succumb to pressure and say:’We are bringing refugees to European countries’, because this will mean implementing this. The basis of a perfidious strategy.”
Facts have proved that this is not the “dark side of European democracy” as Marc Yi claimed, but the reality test of the EU’s Lukashenko’s lies.
But is this important to Lukashenko and Putin? of course not. They thrive in a mixture of arrogance and chaos, doubt replaces certainty, and tarnishing the moral purpose of democracy is itself a victory.
Although the fabricated crisis so far has failed to divide the European Union, what has happened is hardly wasted for these two dictators because it helps support their own illegal rule.
For their home audiences, the half-truth and half-fake facts of alleged abuse by the border guards and their high-pressure water cannons are enough to mislead some people into believing that the other party is not better than them.
Lukashenko is using the core value of democracy—compassion—to weaponize immigration trauma and turn the moral strength of the European Union into fragility. He seems to think that the real weakness of Europe is not its physical boundaries, but its principles.
But the real harmful harm of Lukashenko’s scheming is inflicted on the core of democracy itself. In order to resist his attacks on democracy, the European Union was forced to take a firm stand and reject 2,000 immigrants. This is logical, but only a moral edge. It bends to Lukashenko’s level and treats those desperate as pawns.
Biden hopes that we will explore this often complex issue by clarifying the stakes of democracy in future struggles.
Within the European Union, the main impact of Lukashenko’s conspiracy will be to risk igniting the specter of immigration at the border, even beyond the annoying reality that has existed before—a situation that has fueled populist nationalism.
In his inaugural speech, Biden used the word democracy 5 times in the introduction and 11 times in his entire speech. This came to his mind when he spoke at the place where the first attempted coup took place in the United States two weeks ago.
Looking at the flag-filled shopping mall in Washington, Biden’s words spread to millions of living rooms and dictator offices around the world. He warned: “We once again understand that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. .”
Since then, the test of democracy is far from over, whether in the United States or around the world, this has become clearer. Now, leaders must turn kind words into actions.
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