TVN24 obtained correspondence between the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lewiatan Confederation regarding the process of granting work visas to Poland. In one of the fragments of the letter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself drew attention to the fact that information had reached the USA about the abuse of documents issued by Polish officials in Mexico by Georgian citizens. – This case is truly unique because it concerns the very nerve of state security. That is, the safety of each of us – said Paweł Kowal from the Civic Coalition in the “#BezKitu Campaign”, commenting on the correspondence. – This shows that the government did not want to take action for a very long time. Perhaps he hoped that the matter would go away altogether – said Maciej Gdula, Left wing.
The visa scandal with MFA officials at its center continues. According to Onet, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Piotr Wawrzyk was expelled from the government and from the electoral rolls PIS, because he helped his colleagues create an illegal channel for transporting immigrants from Asia and Africa through Europe to the United States. The subsequent stages of the case have been commented on for two weeks by politicians, experts and journalists who have received information indicating the practice of trading Polish visas.
TVN24 obtained correspondence between the Lewiatan Confederation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from February and March this year regarding the method of issuing visas to foreigners by Polish diplomatic missions.
In a letter dated February 20, 2023 addressed to the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau Confederation Lewiatan drew attention to the unclear system of granting work visas and “changing formal requirements” in many institutions. Lewiatan wrote, among others: at the beginning that “the practices of Polish diplomatic and consular missions (…) significantly hinder third-country nationals from obtaining visa documents in order to work in the territory of Poland.”
The letter to Minister Rau also addressed, among others: attention that “decisions to refuse visas are insufficiently justified, the reasons for negative decisions are often incomprehensible.” “Entrepreneurs report numerous cases in which all required documents confirming the purpose of stay in Poland were provided, but according to the decision, they were insufficient.”
The Lewiatan Confederation drew attention to specific problems in other countries and institutions.
“Turkey: In Istanbul, the process of booking an appointment can take two to five months, while in Ankara it takes even longer.”
“Georgia: The consulate in Tbilisi is very busy, so obtaining a visa may take about 3 months or longer.”
“Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Nigeria: An inefficient drawing system and problems with booking an appointment at the facility mean that the waiting time for an appointment can be up to 9-10 months. The principles of the drawing system are not transparent, and it is impossible to predict whether it will ultimately take place. to submit an application.”
From a fragment letter addressed on March 3, 2023 in response to the Lewiatan Confederation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it appears that the American border services informed the Polish side already in September 2022 “that Polish work visas are massively used by Georgian citizens to enter Mexico” and on to the USA and Canada.
“Equally worth noting is the fact of abuse by foreigners with Polish visas who do not use them in accordance with the declared purpose. In September 2022, the American border services reported that Polish work visas are being massively used by Georgian citizens to enter Mexico (visa issued by The Schengen state gives the right to enter Mexico without additional formalities for further migration to the United States and Canada,” we read in a fragment of the document.
At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized in response that the application processing time varies in different diplomatic missions, including: due to staffing, but also adding:
“Regarding the raised problem of insufficient justification of the reasons for refusing a visa by the consul, I would first of all emphasize that in the visa process, a foreigner must prove the purpose and conditions of the planned stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland.” (…) The consul’s task is to carry out the visa procedure in accordance with applicable law, and his goal is to make positive visa decisions in relation to reliable visa applicants, and the applications of foreigners who treat working or studying in Poland only as a pretext for further migration (which show information obtained by consuls from African and Asian countries), should be analyzed from this angle.
Maciej Gdula, Left wing, commented on the matter in the “#BezKitu Campaign”. – In my opinion, this shows that the government has been reluctant to take action for a very long time. Perhaps he hoped that the case would go away altogether. It means it won’t sail before elections and maybe it will come out after. And that somehow we will manage to fix it, we will still be able to catch fish in this murky water – he said.
Paweł Kowal, Civic Coalition, also commented on the content of the correspondence. – This case is truly unique because it concerns the very nerve of state security, i.e. the security of each of us. Because our allies in the European Union and Americans are looking at this today and saying: what the hell is going on here? – he said.
– Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs helps in issuing work visas. It is not known in what quantities, without any preparation. Someone takes bribes for this. Someone on our side is swindling some companies – let’s wait and see what will come out, who did it, what other bribes there may have been – and suddenly it turns out that these people, on the basis of a special agreement between Schengen zone and Mexico, they reach the Mexican border with the United States (ed.) and press the American border – added the KO politician.
Lewiatan writes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds
Kowal: there is an information block, some people heard about the scandal for the first time today
The Marshal of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki, delivered a speech on Friday in connection with… visa scandal in the Polish Ministry of Diplomacy. – This is the biggest scandal we have faced in the 21st century. Corruption at the highest levels of government, bringing a direct threat to all of us. And it’s because of people whose mouths are full of phrases about security, he said.
– I am addressing you today as the Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland in the form of a televised message, because it is the only form, the only way for this truth to reach everyone. It must also be broadcast on public television, which a large number of people watch, Grodzki said.
Paweł Kowal commented on the message. – I came here straight from Stalowa Wola, from Leżajsk, where I run a campaign, from Łańcut, this morning, from Podkarpacie. In short, the basic thesis of the Senate Marshal is confirmed. She is crucial to understanding what this election is about. There is an information blockade, he said.
– In many places, people you meet on the street do not know what happened. And they don’t know that we are dealing with what is the biggest crisis of the Polish foreign service since 1989, he added.
– I think there are a lot of people who heard it for the first time. And I would like to appeal to all those who have friends and loved ones. Tell me, these elections are special, tell me, call your family. Every gesture matters today. Because what (Marshal – ed.) Grodzki has just said is what we have been paying attention to for a long time, what I call the beginning of authoritarianism, an information blockade – said Paweł Kowal.
– People really don’t know. People think I did something wrong, for example, the way I approach them. Really, he continued.
Gdula: PiS is trying to turn the tables
Maciej Gdula, Left wing, also commented on the matter. – Today I looked a lot at the public media and I have the impression that the scandal concerns the Civic Platform – he said. – So it’s definitely the case that PiS is trying to turn the tables. He is trying to show that this is not an affair of Wawrzyk and officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But this is an issue that actually burdens the opposition somehow, he added.
– This is an extremely serious matter because the ministry officials who are responsible for the security of visa traffic have become corrupt. They abused the trust Poles entrusted to them. This includes really top officials. Minister Wawrzyk is not just any official. This is not the director of a department, this is not someone who shuffles paperwork at the consulate. It was the deputy minister, said Gdula.
Paweł Kowal demanded responsibility in connection with the scandal of the head of the Ministry of Diplomacy, Zbigniew Rau. – Let me say the name here. Let the name Rau be mentioned. Minister Rau heads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is responsible for, and I say this without any doubt, the greatest crisis of the Polish foreign service and foreign policy after 1989, he said.
– Because he allowed this scandal to happen and now he is silent. He can’t even respond honorably. Because he cut off the ability to vote for many Poles abroad and the Polish community. Because he disbanded the foreign service. We don’t have any success today, not even a single one. We are not playing to the best of our abilities, he added.
Questions from young people
The younger guests of the program also asked questions to the guests of the “#BezKitu Campaign”. Katarzyna Niedźwiecka, from the “Girls for Elections” initiative and a law student, asked Maciej Gdula how to make public discourse based on facts instead of emotions and a sense of threat.
Filip Sałacki from Młodych Nowoczesnych asked both politicians how to make Poles feel safe after the elections. Mateusz Duch, an independent publicist, blogger and security analyst, raised the issue of the migration model that Poland should adopt after the elections won by the democratic opposition.
Igor Grochal from the Young Left asked about how to rebuild trust in the Polish services and diplomatic staff.