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26 Sep, 2023 09:14

Poland tightens border with EU neighbor

Warsaw is targeting the suspected “infiltration” of illegal immigrants ahead of a parliamentary election
Poland tightens border with EU neighbor

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced that his country will start checking vehicles coming from Slovakia for illegal migrants on board.

Speaking at a rally ahead of the October 15 general election, the senior member of the Law and Justice (PiS) party pledged that if it is given a third consecutive term in power, it will not allow Poland to become ‘a new Lampedusa’.

The Italian island serves as a major destination for asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Polish officials have used it as a symbol of the migration crisis as they advocate for Warsaw’s restrictive approach.

“Lampedusa is the future of Poland if the Civic Platform comes to power,” he said, referring to the main opposition party.

Morawiecki went on to announce new checks on the border with Slovakia to combat what he called the “infiltration of illegal immigrants” via the Balkans. He said he instructed the Interior Ministry to inspect “mini-buses, vans, cars and buses that may be suspected of” carrying migrants. Since both nations belong to the Schengen free travel zone, there are no proper border controls there, the prime minister added.

The measure was first announced by government spokesperson Piotr Muller ahead of the rally. He also said Poland may ramp up controls on the border with Germany.

Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he is considering introducing checks on the border with Poland, citing concerns over a visa-for-cash scheme allegedly run by Polish officials.

The Polish prime minister said the German leader should “inform” himself about the situation and stop “interfering in Polish affairs,” reiterating a message previously delivered by Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.

“Check if you have tight borders with Austria and other directions,” Morawiecki said, addressing Scholz.

He also blasted Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, telling him: “Don’t you dare insult Poles.” Last week, Zelensky suggested in a speech at the UN that EU nations barring the import of Ukrainian grain, including Poland, are helping Russia. The remark outraged Warsaw.