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20th Jan 2019

Tusk scolds Polish PM for Auschwitz comments

  • Polish PM Szydlo's government has been a staunch opponent of the EU's migration quota scheme (Photo: Pawel Kula / Sejm.)

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo came under fire for a speech she made on Wednesday (14 June) at a ceremony in Auschwitz in which she seemed to have defended her government's anti-migrant policy.

"Auschwitz is a lesson showing that everything needs to be done to protect one's citizens," Szydlo said at the commemoration of the 77th anniversary of the first prisoners arriving to the Nazi death camp.

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The comment was seen by critics as Szydlo defending her position not to allow asylum seekers into Poland under EU migration quotas a day after the European Commission launched a legal probe into Warsaw's non-compliance.

European Council chief and former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk tweeted: "Such words in this place [Auschwitz] should never come from the mouth of a Polish prime minister."

Leszek Balcerowicz, the former chairman of the National Bank of Poland, tweeted: "Is Beata Szydlo extremely cynical, or did she suffer from moral colour blindness? And may not understand the sense of the words that she utters?".

Szydlo's remarks originally appeared in a tweet by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), but this was later removed following the outcry.

A government spokesman, Rafal Bochenek, said that people should listen to the entire speech of the prime minister before making any judgment.

"If you look hard, bad intentions can be found in every expression. I suggest you listen to the entire speech of Premier Szydlo," he said.

Szydlo also said in her speech that politicians must make sure that "such terrible events as those that took place in Auschwitz and other places of martyrdom never happen again", Reuters quoted her as saying.

Szydlo was born in the town of Oswiecim, where the former Nazi death camp is situated.

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