“It is a bit surprising that … a man, who supposedly represents Poland in the international arena … threatened Poland with negative sanctions which could be imposed on our country for not accepting refugees,” government spokesman Rafał Bochenek said.
Tusk warns of consequences
On Wednesday, former Polish prime minister and President of the European Council Donald Tusk warned that breaking away from European solidarity in relocating refugees would mean facing costs.
“What is most important is that we … determine what is our priority,” Tusk said.
“Do we want to solve problems to do with migration together with Europe – that is protect the borders and also help those countries which have too many refugees – or … make a tough break from European solidarity and not accept refugees”.
“If the Polish government will decide … not to partake in the solidary sharing of responsibilities regarding refugees – to which it does not have so much a right, because we are speaking about European laws, but does have certain arguments which I can understand – then it will come inevitably with certain consequences,” Tusk said.
In September 2015, EU leaders agreed that each country would accept a number of asylum seekers over two years to alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy, which have seen the arrival of tens of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East.
EU leaders agreed to relocate a total of about 100,000 refugees of more than two million people who arrived in Europe since 2015.
However, only 14,000 migrants from refugee camps in countries along the Mediterranean coast have been relocated in the EU. Poland, which had been assigned 6,200 refugees, has not taken in any of them.
But Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said that the mechanism of permanently relocating refugees does not solve the problem, adding that only 10 percent of the programme has been achieved, which shows that it is “ineffective and unaccepted”.
The Polish government has in the past said that help needs to be offered in the refugees' home countries.
It also floated a model of “flexible solidarity”, whereby member states could individually determine the nature and scale of support offered to refugees.
Poland has also argued that claims that it has not settled asylum seekers are false, as the country has accepted a large number of refugees from Ukraine.
European Commission warning
According to the European Commission, only Austria, Poland and Hungary have not accepted any people from migrant camps in Italy and Greece, while Malta and Finland are the only countries to have fulfilled their obligations.
The commission on Tuesday threatened to launch procedures against those countries if they do not start resettling refugees by June.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament on Thursday adopted a non-binding resolution, calling European Union member states to speed up the process of relocating refugees.
Nearly 400 MEPs voted for the resolution, while 134 were against.
The vote split Polish officials from the Civic Platform (PO) and Polish People’s Party (PSL) in the European People’s Party grouping, while most MEPs from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), which is part of the European Parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists grouping, were against, with one abstention. (vb/pk)
Source: PAP, IAR