Georgian Way To EU Via Belarus

In August six thousand Georgian citizens crossed the Belarusian border to get to EU: Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Don't you think it's strange? 6 000 Georgian samurai coming to Belarus late summer to travel further:

If you take a closer look at numbers, it's even more strange: August'21: 201 Georgian citizen crossed the Belarus-Polish border, 175 were sent back; August'24: 247 Georgians tried to get into Poland, 244 were turned back; August'25: out of 175 Georgians - 172 were not successful.

They were refused entry as they didn't have a Schengen visa. Belarusian border officers do not check whether people leaving the country have an appropriate visa to travel further.

The amazed Belarusian border authorities say that Georgians come with their families, often having sold all their property back home. First, they try to get into EU without the visa. As they are sent back, they apply for it. The lucky ones are free to try again, the unfortunate confront the choice: apply again, go home or attempt to get into EU illegally, through the green zones.

The number of Georgians who picks up the last variant grows at an exponential rate: 5 were arrested in Belarus in June, 10 - in July and 60 - in August.

More over, first they only tried to sneak into Poland, now to the Baltic states.

One of the best explanations that I heard: after the Russia-Georgia conflict last year Polish President Lech Kaczynski went to Georgia several times to display his solidarity with the people. The Georgians felt that they would be welcomed in Poland any time - their Georgian passport will open up the border and secure a job in Poland. So off they went in numbers.

That's actually a wonderful opportunity for Belarus to boast of the ?No pasaran! shield that the country is for illegal migrants.

Maryna Rakhlei is a journalist with Belarusian information company Belapan - the country's oldest independent news outlet. She has reported on Belarus-EU relations since 2004. She fits in a suitcase and travels a lot.



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