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Friday, June 21, 2024

Poland will not be forced to accept any migrants

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The European Commission reacts to the words of PiS politicians regarding the admission of refugees. There has never been, there is and will never be any compulsion for Poland to accept refugees, and the Polish government has known this since the negotiations on the new migration policy, says Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, in a special interview for TVN24.

Michal Tracz: If I only listened to the narrative of the ruling party, I would ask why the EU is forcing Poland to accept refugees.

Ylva Johansson: No, no one is forced to accept any migrants. The conclusion and general approach of the Council is that solidarity towards countries facing migratory pressure should be made compulsory. But it is up to member states to choose how they want to support them. They can do this through relocation and other means, so there is no forced relocation of immigrants. It is also important what the Council clearly says: a country like Poland, which is really facing migratory pressure, which has taken in a million Ukrainian refugees, is a Member State that can also count on the solidarity of other Member States. It is also a country that will not be forced to make any solidarity movements towards other Member States as long as it faces this pressure itself. So I think it is a fairly balanced proposal that seeks solidarity between Member States, but guarantees that it will not be done in a way that is unacceptable to others.

Michal Tracz: One might say that it is a kind of solidarity under duress. Either you accept or you pay.

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Ylva Johansson: There are different ways. Each Member State can choose how it wants to show solidarity. It could be a relocation. It can be a cash contribution. It could be a contribution in another way. There is freedom of choice. However, of course, what is important is that if a Member State is under migratory pressure, other countries should help it in this effort and can choose how to do it. There is also a new paragraph in our approach. He talks about the direct consequences of the situation in Poland and the Czech Republic, which are currently receiving the largest number of Ukrainian refugees. The point is that if a Member State is already doing a lot by accepting other refugees, for example from Ukraine, then it is not obliged to have a solidarity mechanism towards others. I think that is fair, so this solidarity also takes into account the situation in which each Member State finds itself.

Michal Tracz: Will there be no compulsion for Poland to accept refugees?

Ylva Johansson: Yes, exactly yes, no obligation.

“No one is forced to accept any migrants”Michał Tracz/Facts after noon TVN24

The Czech government is happy, and the Polish – not

Michal Tracz: How long has Poland known that it will not be forced to accept immigrants?

Ylva Johansson: No one knows how long this aggressive Russian war against Ukraine will last.

Michal Tracz: I mean, how long has Poland known. You have been working on migration policy for months. I wonder how long the Polish government has known that there will be no coercion.

Ylva Johansson: This was part of the recent negotiations within the Council. In my original proposal, this was not included because we had no experience with this war and with the large influx of Ukrainian refugees that we are seeing now, so this is the conclusion we have drawn in the meantime, especially thanks to the experience of Poland and the Czech Republic, which have successfully managed to turn this to a specific point in the legislation by the Council. I think this is a very good thing, very effective and necessary. This is a clear conclusion drawn from the situation we are now in with the Ukrainian refugees.

Michal Tracz: After all, this is what the Czech Republic said at the end of these negotiations: “we won, we got what we wanted, we will not be forced to accept refugees.” Then why is the Polish government saying something completely different?

Ylva Johansson: Well, that’s a question I can’t answer. Mostly, Member States are rather willing to tell their citizens how well they have negotiated an agreement, what they have achieved to win a better situation for their own country. It was a result that gave a better position to Poland and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic celebrated this success. I think that’s right. Well, and Poland? I don’t know.

"It was a result that gave a better position to Poland and the Czech Republic"

“It was a result that gave a better position to Poland and the Czech Republic”Michał Tracz/Facts after noon TVN24

A political referendum?

Michal Tracz: You have heard that the government wants to hold a referendum on this migration policy. What do you think about this?

Ylva Johansson: I think it’s a bit weird. We’re halfway through the negotiations. My proposal was made in 2020, and now we have Poland’s position, we have the Council’s position, we have just started the rounds of negotiations. I find it a bit strange that a referendum would be held in this negotiating process.

Michal Tracz: Does this mean that the Polish government uses this narrative only for political reasons? Elections in Poland coming soon.

Ylva Johansson: It’s always a possibility, but I don’t think I should go into details and speculate.

Michal Tracz: But you are also a politician.

Ylva Johansson: Yes, in did. Migration is a very important political issue and it seems to me that in all Member States there is always some link between the debate at national and European level.

"Migration is a very important political issue"

“Migration is a very important political issue”Michał Tracz/Facts after noon TVn24

Expectations of the Polish authorities

Michal Tracz: I think now, when I listen to the Polish government, they would like to have it on paper: “We will not be forced to accept refugees.” There is such a possibility, and you mentioned it, but the Polish government does not want to be able to ask permission from anyone. He wants it in writing that there will be no forced admission of refugees.

Ylva Johansson: Well, that’s an odd position. We’re dealing with legislation here. This legislation must be in place for years. It has to be firm and, of course, we would never put a specific country in this legislation. We always say in general terms, holistically, how this legislation will be used in particular situations. This seems very right to me, because many things happen that we cannot predict. It would be bizarre if we were to have legislation that specifically mentions a specific solution for a specific country by name, but it is perfectly clear in the legislation that the situation in which Poland finds itself now will not force it to any solidarity mechanisms, because Poland has already accepts a million refugees from Ukraine. This is a huge number, no other country does something like this, so naturally it makes Poland in a very special situation and there is absolutely no need to ask for something like that.

We're dealing with legislation here.  This legislation must be in place for years

We’re dealing with legislation here. This legislation must be in place for yearsMichał Tracz/Facts after noon TVN24

Migrants and crime

Michal Tracz: Finally, I would like to take advantage of your Swedish roots and ask about Stockholm. Politicians of the ruling camp in Poland often cite the example of Stockholm as a city with immigrant ghettos, ruled by groups of aggressive immigrants who break local law and act only on the basis of their own law. Is this true from your point of view?

Ylva Johansson: I should have said “no, I don’t agree with that”. There are indeed significant problems in Sweden. Sweden, for example, was the country that faced the highest number of migrants per capita during the 2015 crisis. This was due to the lack of a proper migration system in Europe. This is the conclusion we have drawn, but it is necessary for us to have a strong mechanism to protect our external border and better process migrants. Secondly, Sweden has real problems with violence. I must say that organized crime groups are strong in Sweden. They are also strong in many other Member States, but what is special here in Sweden is how violence and shootings happen. This is really different from other Member States. This is also the reason why I am here. To find out as much as possible about how to deal with Malmö policing to counter this violence. It’s really scary. This is a toxic thing for society, and that’s why we’re organizing the fight against drugs and organized crime as well.

Michal Tracz: And isn’t that what racism is? What if someone connects crime only with the fact that someone is an immigrant?

Ylva Johansson: I think it’s very important that we always remember that the vast, vast majority of ethnic Swedes and the vast majority of migrants are decent people who have normal jobs, pay taxes, don’t commit crime, are part of society and get along very well together. So these are not people who commit crimes. Never blame a group that is not part of a criminal activity. Criminal attacks are always committed by individuals and should be punished.

"Criminal attacks are always committed by individuals"

“Criminal attacks are always committed by individuals”Michał Tracz/Facts after noon TVN24

Main photo source: Facts after noon TVN24

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