Poland abandoned a pledge to shelter migrants under a European Union relocation agreement, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said, shifting her country’s stance a day after suicide bombers killed dozens of people in the bloc’s de-facto capital.
Poland’s previous government agreed to host several thousand migrants under a deal forged by the EU’s 28 member states to address the hundreds of thousands of mostly Middle Eastern refugees who have arrived in the bloc since last year. The new government, which has repeatedly clashed with the EU’s executive over rule-of-law and other issues since it took power after October elections, has repeatedly said it must eliminate danger when admitting migrants.
“I will be very clear: at the moment, I don’t see a possibility for migrants to come to Poland,” Szydlo told Superstacja TV on Wednesday. Her spokesman, Rafal Bochenek, later told journalists that the government “can’t allow for events in western Europe to happen in Poland.”
Poland’s about-face is a blow to pledges made last year to shelter a planned 160,000 refugees in the EU and a deal sealed last week to reduce the flow of refugees arriving on member Greece’s shores from Turkey. Under the new agreement, each Syrian refugee who makes it to the Aegean state will be sent back to Turkey and put at the end of a waiting list for entry, while another person on the waiting in a camp there will be admitted to the bloc. Some 857,000 survived the Aegean passage in 2015, and more than 144,000 have crossed so far this year.
About 53 percent of Poles were against accepting migrants, according to a January survey by the CBOS center. A lower number, 41 percent, are for offering them temporary shelter, and only 4 percent said the country should allow migrants to settle permanently.