Turkey bans Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis from flying to Belarus

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Ankara on Friday banned citizens of Syria, Iraq and Yemen from flying from Turkish airports to Belarus because of the refugee crisis at the former Soviet country’s border with Poland, Agence France-Presse reported.

The announcement followed an urgent round of diplomatic contacts between Polish, Turkish and European officials aimed at stemming the flow of people trying to illegally cross the European Union’s eastern frontier.

“Due to the problem of illegal border crossings between the European Union and Belarus, it has been decided that the citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen who want to travel to Belarus from Turkish airports will not be allowed to buy tickets and to board until further notice,” the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

 

The announcement marked a partial reversal of Turkey’s official stance on the deepening row between Belarus, its ally Russia, and EU states.

Turkish Airlines on Tuesday rejected charges that its flights “prepare the ground for illegal migrant trafficking”.

Such reports “do not reflect the truth,” it said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the crisis by phone with Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on Wednesday.

At the time, Çavuşoğlu “expressed sadness over attempts to portray Turkey as a part of the problem,” the foreign ministry said.

Turkey is home to up to five million refugees and migrants, most of them from war-scarred Syria, and remains one of the preferred routes for migrants and refugees to enter Europe.

 

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