The main opposition presidential candidate, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, has called on the government to “stop migrants” and “secure its borders” in response to Turkey’s decision to allow refugees to make their way towards the European Union.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Kidawa-Błońska, from the centrist Civic Platform (PO) party, said that Poland “should secure its borders and watch that no one unauthorised comes to the country”. Her remarks echoed the kind of language more usually associated with the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Kidawa-Błońska suggested that Poland is currently at risk. “From what I know, our borders are not well secured, because what is happening right now is very, very dangerous. These people are desperate and will seek out all ways of getting to Europe.”
The presidential candidate called for Italy and Greece to be supported in their efforts to stop migrants, calling on the Polish government to sit down with other EU countries to make this happen because “Turkey and Putin (…) have stopped working to protect [Europe] from the inflow of migrants”.
Strzał w kolano 🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/SVkipmqop3
— Krzysztof ✝️🇵🇱 (@Krzyszt98612392) March 3, 2020
Kidawa-Błońska’s statement appears at odds with comments she made just two days earlier. During a meeting with voters, she warned against dwelling on “non-existent problems” related to migration. “They spooked us with immigrants, who were meant to come here, [but] has anyone seen them? They are not here. Let us not create problems, which are not really there,” reported state broadcaster TVP Info.
Previously, in 2017, she had said that “the 7,000 refugees [assigned to be relocated to Poland by the EU], mainly women and children, will not be a danger to a country as large and stable as Poland. Denying them help is shameful.”
The migration crisis has often prompted contradictory responses from PO. When in government, it approved the EU’s 2015 refugee-relocation scheme. However, once in opposition, PO’s then leader Grzegorz Schetyna announced in 2017 that his party was opposed to accepting migrants. Yet those words were in turn quickly contradicted by his deputy leader, Tomasz Siemoniak.
— portal tvp.info 🇵🇱 (@tvp_info) May 9, 2017
Despite anti-immigrant rhetoric from PiS , Poland has in fact experienced an unprecedentedly large wave of migration under the party’s rule. In 2018, for the second year running, Poland issued more first residence permits to immigrants from outside the European Union than did any other member state.
In further comments on Tuesday, Kidawa-Błońska, one of five candidates hoping to unseat the incumbent Andrzej Duda in May’s presidential elections, repeated her support for the introduction of same-sex civil partnerships. She also indicated that she would refuse to sign any legislation that tightened Poland’s abortion law, which is already one of the EU’s strictest reported Onet.
Main image credits: Sławomir Kamiński/Agencja Gazeta
Maria Wilczek is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She also contributes regularly to The Economist and Al Jazeera, and has also written for The Times, Politico Europe, The Spectator and Gazeta Wyborcza.