Saturday

2nd Mar 2024

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.

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Germany is expanding agreements to return rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin as part of a wider shift in Europe to curtail migration. Berlin has reached deals with Georgia and Morocco since December.

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