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EU must protect borders to avert migrant crisis: Polish FM

19.09.2023 12:00
The European Union must protect its borders to tackle the latest migrant crisis, as shown by events on the Italian island of Lampedusa, the Polish foreign minister has said.
Polands Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in New York on Monday.
Poland's Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in New York on Monday. X/Polish Foreign Ministry

Zbigniew Rau made the comment in a media interview in New York on Monday night, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Poland’s top diplomat is making a five-day visit to the United States for the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, according to officials. 

In an interview with Polish state broadcaster TVP Info, Rau was asked if the UN would seek solutions to the issue of an uncontrolled influx of immigrants to Europe.  

The Polish foreign minister said: “Definitely. It’s an issue of a global nature, but currently the eyes of the international public are on Europe.”

Referring to the influx of African migrants to Italy’s Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, Rau said that “without a doubt, it’s the height of the EU’s migrant crisis.”

Almost 10,000 illegal immigrants reached Lampedusa on boats last week, the Reuters news agency reported.

The island normally has a population of just over 6,000.

The foreign minister said the surge in migrant arrivals on Lampedusa happened because “nobody in the EU’s decision-making centres, whether in Berlin or Brussels, listened to the Polish government.”

According to Rau, Poland warned that “uncontrolled immigration, the ‘open door’ policy propagated by then German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will have consequences and we are witnessing them today.”

The Polish foreign minister added: “We have always said that policy must start with the protection of EU borders.”

“That’s exactly what we are doing at our border with Belarus,” he added.

Rau said in the interview that Poland would only accept an EU-wide migration policy “if member states are allowed to decide whom they want to admit and under what rules, so that it’s a voluntary arrangement for the countries and for those who want to come.”

He said that any "mandatory relocation" of migrants between EU member states would represent “a brutal violation of national sovereignty, and of personal freedom” of migrants.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk said on Tuesday that any “destabilisation in EU countries serves Russia’s interests,” the PAP news agency reported.

Mularczyk told public broadcaster Polish Radio: “The migrant crisis on Lampedusa fits the pattern of hybrid operations designed to weaken the EU and destabilise the situation in member states.”

The Polish deputy foreign minister added: “Without a doubt, Russia has an interest in this.”

So far this year, some 120,000 immigrants have reached Italy by sea, compared with 64,529 in the corresponding period of 2022, the PAP news agency reported.

On Sunday, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU’s executive Commission, visited Lampedusa and proposed a 10-point action plan to help Italy deal with a surge in migrant arrivals, according to the DW website.

Von der Leyen acknowledged that the issue was "a European challenge and needs a European answer," British broadcaster the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his government would on Tuesday adopt a special resolution on the EU's proposed new migration policy, "expressing Poland's opposition to illegal migration," the PAP news agency reported.

In a video message posted on the X social media platform, Morawiecki said the resolution was necessary after von der Leyen's action plan, announced on Lampedusa, which he said disregarded "the security of the citizens of our continent, including the security of Polish families, women and children."


Source: PAP, Reuters, dw.com, BBC