Poland’s courageous female Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, says her country will accept no refugees as EU threatens legal action over quotas. Poland’s Right-wing government is standing firm after reversing former plan to resettle thousands of Muslim migrants.
Independent Alongside Hungary and Austria, it is one of only three countries not to have relocated a single refugee, “in breach of their legal obligations” and commitments. “This cannot be the responsibility of just a few member states – this must be shared be all,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for migration.
But Prime Minister Beata Szydło told a press conference there had been no formal agreement to compulsory quotas, which Hungary and Poland voted against.
“A critical attitude towards the mechanism of migrant relocation is becoming increasingly widespread in the European Union,” she claimed, according to a translation by state broadcaster Poland Radio. “Poland cannot and will not accept Muslim refugees.”
Austria has finally pledged to accept eligible asylum seekers from Italy, but the EU has warned Poland and Hungary that they have until June to start accepting refugees or face sanctions.
“I call on Poland and Hungary who have not relocated a single person … to start doing so right now,” Mr Avramopoulos told reporters. “If no action is taken by them before the next report in June, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the treaties and to open infringement procedures.”
In September 2015, EU states committed to relocating up to 160,000 refugees from overcrowded camps in Greece and Italy countries within two years.
But fewer than 18,500 people have been resettled so far and while Poland has been assigned 6,200 refugees, none have been admitted. The country committed to taking in up to 10,000 migrants at the start of the crisis but after winning the 2015 elections, the populist Law and Justice party (PiS) reversed the decision.
Mariusz Blaszczak, the interior minister, stuck by the position on Wednesday despite the EU’s warnings. Claiming that accepting migrants would have “certainly been worse for Poland” than facing EU action, he told state radio that the “security of Poland and of the Poles” was at stake and drew a link to terror attacks in Europe.
At a meeting on Tuesday, 28 European ministers told EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans to increase efforts to bring Warsaw in line. Amnesty International accused the Polish government of “trampling over the EU’s founding principles” and urged the EU to take action.
Muslim migrants arriving in Italy has continued to rise, seeing almost 13,000 people disembark last month alone.
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