Paris attacks undermine EU refugee policy, new Polish gov't says

by Reuters
Saturday, 14 November 2015 20:54 GMT

* Poland wants EU security guarantees before accepting migrants Ministers say attacks EU migrant policy must be revised (Adds comments from incoming foreign affairs minister)

By Adrian Krajewski

WARSAW, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Poland's new government has responded to the Paris attacks by demanding security guarantees before accepting its allocation of refugees under a European Union quota system, and saying the carnage puts the EU's entire migrant policy in question.

The EU is already deeply divided over how to handle the more than 800,000 migrants who have entered the bloc this year, mostly fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

Saturday's comments seemed to align the new government of the conservative and eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party with others in eastern Europe who bitterly oppose the welcome given to the refugees, notably by Germany, Austria and Sweden.

"The attacks mean the necessity of an even deeper revision of the European policy towards the migrant crisis," said Konrad Szymanski, who becomes Poland's European affairs minister on Monday.

"We'll accept (refugees only) if we have security guarantees. This is a key condition, and today a question mark has been put next to it all around Europe," he added, without elaborating.

In September, Poland's old centre-right, pro-EU government broke ranks with its ex-communist partners from the 'Visegrad group' - Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - by backing an EU plan to share out 120,000 refugees across the 28-nation bloc.

Under the plan, Poland was to take in 4,500 refugees, adding to some 2,000 it had already accepted.

The migrant crisis became a key issue in the Polish election campaign, and PiS strongly criticised the government's decision.

"The (quota) decision is valid for all EU countries, but its implementation is very hard to imagine today," Szymanski told RMF FM radio.

Witold Waszczykowski, the incoming foreign minister, said the strategies Europe had worked out a few months ago for dealing with the migrant issue would not work now.

"We have to be aware that we were wrong, too naive and idealistic," Waszczykowski told the news channel TVN24. "We should be guided by doctrines not of cultural equality, nor sheer economy. There is a safety criterion that should dominate."

He said he believed the Schengen system, which abolishes border controls between 26 European countries, would survive the crisis.

"We got used to it, big business stands behind it," he said. The borders should encircle Europe from the outside."

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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