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Opinions & Interviews

23 Mar 2020

Lukashenko dwells on return of Belarusians from abroad, criticizes irresponsible tourists

Lukashenko dwells on return of Belarusians from abroad, criticizes irresponsible tourists

MINSK, 23 March (BelTA) – It is essential to handle topical issues connected with the return of Belarusian nationals from South Asian countries, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with high-ranking government officials at the Palace of Independence on 21 March, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked about the state of affairs connected with the return of Belarusian nationals who appeared in a difficult situation abroad because of the restrictive travel measures in a number of countries. He remarked that in certain Asian states problems emerge out of thin air: Belarusians are not allowed to take return flights organized by Russian airlines. Belarus expects much more assistance from the closest neighbor, especially against the backdrop of the active support from western neighbors. Moreover, the president said a few days ago that Belarus was ready to help Russian nationals, who are close people to us, return to Russia from Poland.

“I know that certain problems emerged in India, surprisingly, out of thin air. Belarusians spending their holidays in India bought return tickets to Russian flights. But they were simply not allowed on board. Let’s consider this issue not in a simplified manner – we can send a charter flight to bring them back. A person has a ticket, and they must be delivered to the destination point. They have tickets to Moscow. We will think how to take our people from Moscow. Yes, we can transport them from India. But who will cover ticket losses to those people and the losses for charter flights? There should be no panic. It is essential to handle all issues in a calm way in accordance with the law.

The president also touched upon another issue: many Belarusians went on holiday abroad knowing about a complicated situation in the world because of the pandemic and knowing that many countries were closing their borders. “We are trying to persuade our people not to go abroad, to stay home. There will be no charter flights for those who went abroad after our warnings. So they can stay there since they decided to go no matter what,” the head of state said. “I understand that there are certain cases when you have to go abroad to solve certain issues. But such cases are rare. Very rare. Such people can get the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then we will be responsible for them.”

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, certain people leave the country in this complicated time using a Pole’s card. “They travel back and forth, and we have to meet and test all of them. Our border guards should get the following instruction: if people want to go to Poland, they must stay there,” he said. “People should be warned in a civilized way to avoid foreign trips. If they still go abroad, they will have to stay there till the end of this pandemic.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported earlier that about 11,000 Belarusians had gone abroad in the past few days. “We emphasize that such trips are carried out after clear recommendations to refrain from foreign trips,” the representatives of the ministry said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends to refrain from foreign trips without urgent necessity in this complicated period because it will be difficult to return home.

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