Poland has joined six other eastern member states in expressing opposition to the possibility of the EU again creating a system to relocate asylum seekers between countries. The Polish government says it will “not consent” to the “cultural experiment” of relocating “illegal immigrants”.
The European Commission is set to unveil a new Pact on Asylum and Migration this summer, according to EU Observer.
The pact is expected to include a proposal for redistributing asylum seekers among all EU countries, a common mechanism for returning those denied asylum to third countries, and a coordinated approach to tackling smuggling networks.
However, in a letter to the European Commission, Poland’s interior minister, Mariusz Kamiński, along with his counterparts from Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia, declared that they would not accept any compulsory relocation of migrants, reports Wirtualna Polska.
“In March, some southern European countries, including Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Malta, sent a request to the European Commission to introduce quick, compulsory and immediate relocation of illegal immigrants who found themselves in the EU,” said Polish interior minister Mariusz Kamiński at a press conference yesterday.
“I want to assure all Polish citizens that the Polish government clearly and strongly opposes any relocation of illegal immigrants in our country,” added Kamiński, quoted by state broadcaster TVP. “This is a clear, unambiguous and non-negotiable position.”
Kamiński said the decision was driven by “common sense” rather than xenophobia, arguing that the Polish government could not “consent” to “any social or cultural experiments imposed on us”.
He said that previous waves of migration of “culturally and socially unrelated” people into western Europe had caused “tragic consequences, social conflicts, racial and religious conflicts”.
Szef @MSWiA_GOV_PL Mariusz Kamiński: Chcę zapewnić polskich obywateli, że rząd PiS jednoznacznie i zdecydowanie przeciwstawia się przymusowej relokacji nielegalnych imigrantów
— PiS Śląskie #DUDA2020 (@PiS_Slaskie) June 8, 2020
The letter issued to the EU, however, also highlights solutions that the seven members states believe should be made priorities in the pact, including strengthening the EU’s external borders and developing a flexible response in the event of another migration crisis.
They also emphasised the need to build a coherent management system around migrants and asylum seekers, based on a balance between solidarity and responsibility.
Poland has, since the the Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in late 2015, been in conflict with Brussels over refugee relocation. The PiS government refused to take a single asylum seeker from its quota of 7,082 under the EU’s previous relocation scheme.
That led the European Commission to launch a case against Poland, as well as Hungary and the Czech Republic, over their failure to comply. Earlier this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that the three countries had indeed breached their obligations under EU law.
In response, Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, accused EU institutions of being “completely detached from reality”.
“Poland was right not to accept refugees,” said Ziobro. “We defended our sovereignty against the foreign culture of Islam that they wanted to impose on us.”
Main image credits: Lukasz Wadolowski/Agencja Gazeta