Turkey dismisses accusations of aiding Belarus-Poland migration crisis

Turkey has said that it rejects efforts to "portray it as part of the problem" in the migrant crisis along the Poland-Belarus border, amid accusations that Turkish Airlines has been facilitating travel for migrants.

Migrants gather near razor wire on the Belarus-Poland border on Nov 9.

Duvar English - Reuters 

Turkey rejects efforts to "portray it as part of the problem" in the migrant crisis along the Poland-Belarus border, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Nov. 11. 

Turkey, host to some 4 million mainly Syrian migrants, has been accused of contributing to the migrant flow toward Belarus' borders. The European Union has accused Minsk of encouraging the migrants to come to its territory, then pushing them to cross to Poland and other neighboring countries.

"We reject efforts to portray Turkey, which is not a party to this issue, as part of the problem," the ministry said in a statement, adding Ankara viewed the targeting of its flag-carrier Turkish Airlines over the matter as "intentional."

Poland and the EU earlier this week said that Turkish Airlines (THY) - which flies from Istanbul to Minsk - was turning a blind eye to the transit of migrants and refugees, with reports suggesting that the airliner might even be sanctioned. 

"The EU will ... explore how to sanction, including through blacklisting, third-country airlines that are active in human trafficking," EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Nov. 8. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a phone conversation with his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on Nov. 10, saying that Turkey was being made part of a problem despite not being party to it.

In the phone call, Çavuşoğlu also invited technical teams from Poland to inspect operations at Istanbul Airport.

On Nov. 8, Polish authorities stepped up border protection and mobilized more than 12,000 troops after a large group of migrants started marching toward the country’s frontier with Belarus accompanied by the Belarusian military.