Poland has announced that it is reintroducing controls on its border with Slovakia in a bid to curb the entry of irregular migrants. Its decision comes days after Germany announced that it may do the same on its borders with Poland and the Czech Republic for the same reason.
As members of the Schengen free-travel zone, Poland and Slovakia currently have no checkpoints on their border. However, EU rules allow states to temporarily introduce controls “as a last resort measure in exceptional situations”.
“I have ordered the interior minister to introduce checks on the Polish-Slovak border of minibuses, vans, cars and buses that may be suspected of carrying illegal immigrants, so that no one accuses us of having a leaky border,” announced Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki today.
“The Polish border will be safe as long as the PiS government is in power,” he added, referring to the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice party, which is standing for re-election next month.
Poleciłem ministrowi spraw wewnętrznych i administracji, aby wprowadzać kontrole na granicy polsko-słowackiej busików, busów, samochodów, autobusów, które można podejrzewać o to,że tamtędy migrują nielegalni imigranci–powiedział premier Mateusz Morawiecki https://t.co/4wuQ4TxQV1 pic.twitter.com/VzQBLmODrW
— TVP Parlament (@TVPParlament) September 25, 2023
The government has not yet unveiled details of when the new controls will be implemented or what form they will take. But broadcaster RMF reports, based on inside sources, that they may begin tomorrow and will involve spotchecks of vehicles that border guards suspect could be transporting migrants.
RMF notes that, so far this year, around 600 foreigners without permission to enter Poland have been detained near its southern border, compared to 122 in the whole of last year. A further 500 who entered Poland from Slovakia or the Czech Republic have been detained trying to cross into Germany.
Morawiecki noted today that such migrants were passing through the Balkans, then Hungary and Slovakia, before entering Poland. The same claim was made earlier in the day by government spokesman Piotr Müller, who had announced that Poland was considering introducing border checks.
Müller also said that the government would not rule out introducing checks on the border with Germany if concerns develop over “the potential direction of immigration from Lampedusa”, referring to the Italian island that has recently received large numbers of irregular immigrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa.
Germany’s interior minister wants to establish controls on the Polish and Czech borders to stem the arrival of thousands of irregular migrants through those two countries.
Currently, as all three are part of the Schengen zone, there are no border checks https://t.co/CZjzbwzXbz
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 23, 2023
The Polish government’s move comes after Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, announced last week that Berlin was considering introducing checks on its borders with Poland and the Czech Republic to curb the growing number of irregular migrants crossing them.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz also raised the idea during a speech at the weekend, during which he raised concern over an ongoing scandal in Poland relating to corruption in the visa system.
Those remarks were condemned by the Polish government, which accused Germany of seeking to interfere in the current campaign for next month’s parliamentary elections.
Poland has criticised @Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz for his comments on an ongoing scandal over corruption in the Polish visa system.
Government figures accused him of seeking to „interfere in the campaign” for next month’s elections https://t.co/y22zN7Ttez
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 25, 2023
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Main image credit: Krzysztof Lasoń/WikimediaCommons (under CC BY-SA 3.0)
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.