Poland Faces `Blackmail' on Migrants, Probable Premier Says

  • Opposition favors providing financial help to refugee camps
  • Promises harder line on EU affairs before Oct. 25 election

Poland must push back against any European Union attempts to “blackmail” the country into taking refugees, said Beata Szydlo, the opposition’s candidate for prime minister whose party is leading in the polls six weeks before a general election.

Premier Ewa Kopacz’s government, trailing Szydlo’s Law & Justice in opinion surveys before the Oct. 25 ballot, has said Poland is “ready to do more” to help western European countries deal with the refugee crisis. It’s rejected any forced quota system for accepting migrants, arguing that such decisions should be voluntary and made by national authorities.

“We can’t accept blackmail and succumb to political correctness by accepting quotas that are being imposed on us,” Szydlo said at the news conference in Kulesze Koscielne, Poland, on Wednesday. “The priority for us is the security of Polish citizens.”

Speaking during a parliamentary debate, Law & Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said his party favored allocating money to support refugee camps and warned that migrants would end up imposing their way of life on Poles.

‘Become Guests’

“Do you really want us to become guests in our own house?” he said on Wednesday. “Poles don’t want it and neither does Law & Justice.”

EU countries are bickering over how to tackle the region’s worst refugee crisis since World War II amid calls from Germany and Brussels for a Europe-wide sharing of the burden. While Kopacz has called the crisis a “test of decency” for Poland after it was helped by richer countries in past years, Law & Justice has said the government should focus on bringing back people of Polish origin from former Soviet republics.

Kaczynski said German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming attitude was behind the current crisis as she turned her country into a “magnet for economic migrants.” Merkel on Tuesday proposed an emergency summit of EU leaders next week after member countries failed to agree on binding quotas to distribute new arrivals.

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