Blaming Turkey for Belarus border crisis ’misguided’: Erdoğan aide

Blaming Turkey or its national airline for the humanitarian crisis at the Polish border with Belarus is "misguided", President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's top foreign policy adviser told AFP on Nov. 13.

Ankara on Friday banned citizens of three Middle Eastern countries from flying from Turkish airports to the former Soviet republic because of "the problem of illegal border crossings between the European Union and Belarus".

Turkish Airlines provides one of the most heavily used international links to the Belarusian capital Minsk.

Erdoğan's foreign policy aide İbrahim Kalın said accusations that Turkey somehow contributed to the border crisis were unjust.

"This recent crisis of illegal migrants between Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and a few other European countries, in fact, has nothing to do with Turkey," he said in an exclusive interview.

"Travellers are going to Belarus and from there to Lithuania, Poland and other EU countries. Blaming Turkey for that, or Turkish Airlines, is simply so misguided, misplaced," he said.

Turkey's announcement was met with relief by European officials.

"Thank you to the Turkish authorities and (civil aviation agency) for your support and cooperation," European Council president Charles Michel tweeted.

Kalın said Turkey made its decision after intense consultations with Polish and other European officials.

"Look, we do not want to see any human being from any country to be used as a bargaining chip or as subject of human trafficking, or in some kind of political crisis between countries," he said.

But he added that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu "made it very clear to his counterparts in Poland, Lithuania and as well as Belarus that, you know, we do not carry...

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