Thursday

17th Oct 2019

Poland: Middle East migrants cause EU 'tensions'

The Polish government has reiterated its opposition to migrant relocations, while describing Middle East refugees as “the cause” of “social tensions” in Europe.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party initiated the motion in parliament, which passed by 267 votes against 158 on Friday (1 April).

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  • Kaczynski previously said Arab migrants carry dangerous "parasites" and "protozoas" (Photo: pis.org.pl)

The non-binding resolution said the parliament “voices its considered objection to any attempts to create permanent EU mechanisms for allocating refugees.”

It said immigration policy “should remain in the hands of the Polish state.”

“This is especially important from the point of view of growing social tensions, the cause of which is the excessive wave of migration from the Middle East to Europe.”

It criticised the former government for breaking solidarity with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania by agreeing to the EU relocation scheme last September.

Poland prefers Christians

It also said Poland is to favour “lone women, children, families with many children and religious minorities” in terms of the refugees it will accept.

In the context of the Middle East, the phrase “religious minorities” refers primarily to Arab Christians.

Poland is slated to take in 6,500 refugees from Greece and Italy over the next two years.

PiS leaders have made a series of anti-migrant statements since coming to power.

The party chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said they carry “exotic parasites” in their stomachs. The PiS prime minister, Beata Szydlo, has warned that some of them are terrorists.

EU sources say the Polish government is unlikely to refuse migrants under the EU scheme, but it is hoping to create enough bad feeling around the project that it falls apart.

Rule of law controversy

The new Polish authorities are already under EU scrutiny on a separate issue - their decision to install loyalists in the country’s Constitutional Tribunal and to limit its ability to vet new laws.

Thorbjorn Jagland, the head of the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based watchdog on human rights and rule of law, is to visit Warsaw on Monday (4 April) to discuss the situation.

The EU commissioner in charge of the dossier, Frans Timmermans, will also go to Poland later in the week before reporting back to Brussels.

Poland’s foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski had asked the Council of Europe for an opinion on the judicial reforms.

But the Council issued a scathing criticism of the PiS project, making Waszczykowski look silly and prompting him to call the head of the Polish constitutional court “an Iranian ayatollah.”

The gaffe-prone minister also made headlines this week by saying on Polish TV that Poland no longer has a “negro mentality” toward the US, meaning that it no longer feels like a subordinate.

Gaffes

His racist language provoked criticism from both inside and outside PiS.

Szydlo said “it’s an unfortunate term.” Ryszard Petru, the leader of the Modern opposition party, said: “We will become a third-ranking country in Nato and the EU.”

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, Marek Dollar, Poland’s honorary consul in the US also resigned citing the constitutional dispute.

He said in a public note: “I cannot represent the political party … whose government now attempts to destabilise and hijack democracy.”

Poland's constitutional dispute escalates

Activists have begun camping outside the prime minister's office in Warsaw after the government refused to recognise a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal.

Germany: Refugee crisis is like euro crisis

The migration crisis is like the euro crisis because the solution is for member states to cede more power to the EU, Germany’s defence minister has said.

Hungary faces EU court for starving migrants

The European Commission is one step away from taking Hungary to court if it does not offer a credible explanation for why it denied detained migrants food in its transit zones along the Serbian border.

EU migrant boat plan fails to get extra support

Only seven out of 28 EU states have so far supported a draft plan to disembark and relocate migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean, following a meeting in Luxembourg.

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

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