In a bid to curb illegal immigration and maintain control over its borders, Poland has announced new measures to check vehicles coming from Slovakia. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made the announcement during a rally ahead of the October 15 general election. Morawiecki, a senior member of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, expressed his determination to prevent Poland from becoming “a new Lampedusa,” referring to the Italian island that has become a major destination for asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The Polish government views the issue of migration as a symbol of the migration crisis and has used the situation on Lampedusa to advocate for its restrictive approach. Morawiecki warned that if the main opposition party, Civic Platform, were to come to power, “Lampedusa is the future of Poland.”
Morawiecki announced that checks on vehicles entering Poland from Slovakia will be implemented to combat what he referred to as the “infiltration of illegal immigrants” via the Balkans. As both Poland and Slovakia belong to the Schengen free travel zone, there are currently no proper border controls in place.
The announcement of these new checks was made by government spokesperson Piotr Muller prior to the rally. Muller also suggested that Poland may increase controls on its border with Germany. In response to this, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that he is considering introducing checks on the border with Poland due to concerns over a visa-for-cash scheme allegedly run by Polish officials.
In turn, Morawiecki called on Scholz to “inform” himself about the situation and refrain from “interfering in Polish affairs.” Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau had already conveyed a similar message to the German leader. Morawiecki advised Scholz to “check if you have tight borders with Austria and other directions.”
The Polish prime minister did not stop there; he also criticized Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Morawiecki sternly warned Zelensky, “Don’t you dare insult Poles.” Zelensky had previously suggested in a speech at the United Nations that EU nations barring the import of Ukrainian grain, including Poland, were indirectly aiding Russia. This remark caused outrage in Warsaw.
These moves by Poland reflect the country’s determination to address the issue of illegal immigration and maintain control over its borders. With the parliamentary election on the horizon, the government is taking a proactive stance in order to respond to concerns raised by its citizens regarding immigration and border security.
It remains to be seen how these measures will impact the political landscape in Poland and whether they will resonate with the electorate. However, it is clear that the issue of immigration will continue to shape the political discourse in the country in the lead up to the election.