Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, former prime minister, former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and currently an MEP, said in “Fakty po Faktach” on TVN24 that the important issue in the visa scandal is the issue of scale – how many visas were issued “in such an obviously corrupt scheme.” He said that “the very fact that something like this could happen” is a scandal. At the same time, he said that political responsibility should be borne by the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, although – as he added – criminal liability could also be ruled out.
The guest of “Fakty po Faktach” referred to the visa scandal and further information regarding irregularities in submitting visa applications.
As he said, two issues are crucial in this case.
– First of all – scale. Here we still have insufficient information about how many of these visas were issued in such an obviously corrupt scheme or system. But I am deeply convinced that a lot. Because, according to Eurostat data, Poland has issued almost two million work permits in two years, and those who apply for a work permit pay for it in advance, and probably not to keep the paper in their pocket, but consistently afterwards. they apply for a visa. So the numbers of several hundred thousand sound likely to my ears, said Cimoszewicz.
Find out more: Visa scandal. What do we know so far?
He said that the second element of this “undoubtedly scandal” is “the very fact that something like this could happen.” – That such a system was built in which a client, a petitioner, (…), was unable to get to the consulate using the normal reporting system, and was forced to use the services of intermediary companies, had to pay these companies, had to pay any further fees, but there is no guarantee of obtaining a visa. Well, most often, the one who paid a lot got the visa, he continued.
– The question arises: why did it work this way, why was it tolerated? – added.
He was asked whether, in the light of emerging information, he could say that an organized criminal group operated within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. – There is certainly reason to ask whether anyone was materially interested and benefited from it. It is completely unimaginable to me that the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs could provide a list of the names of foreigners, lists apparently containing several dozen names, and send them through other officials to Polish consulates with an order to issue visas to these people, he said. He added that “this is something extraordinary.”
Cimoszewicz: a discussion about suspending Poland’s membership in the Schengen area may begin
The TVN24 guest said that “the phenomenon itself discredits Poland and the Polish government.” – However, if the assumptions and opinions that the action was taken on a very large scale are confirmed, the consequences may be serious – he said.
– For example United States they may be very distrustful of cooperation with Polish special services in the field of international security. And secondly, a discussion may begin about whether Poland’s membership in… Schengen zone it should not be suspended, he said.
– In my opinion, if the situation is extraordinary, at least there will be a very serious discussion about it. (…) This may threaten us, citizens of the Republic of Poland, with problems when crossing the border. (…) I believe this is a serious threat, he said.
Cimoszewicz on the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: apart from resignation, I would not rule out criminal liability
Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz also spoke about the responsibility of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau.
– Politically, he should be dismissed (the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau – note ed.), but I wouldn’t rule out further responsibility if he knew about all this and didn’t react. This was not just about corruption, but also about danger. I have come across information according to which the secret services of other countries claim that among the people who received these Polish visas are those who are on the list of people posing a threat to European security. And this qualifies even for criminal liability, not only political one, he said.
Investigations into irregularities in submitting visa applications are conducted by the National Prosecutor’s Office Central Anticorruption Bureau.
The deputy director of the Department of Organized Crime and Corruption of the National Prosecutor’s Office, Daniel Lerman, reported at the Thursday conference that “the investigation was initiated on March 7, 2023 based on materials provided by the Central Anticorruption Bureau.”
– It concerns paid protection in the acceleration of visa procedures in relation to several hundred visas and visa applications submitted over a year and a half. Of these several hundred visas, most of them were granted through refusal decisions, explained prosecutor Lerman. He added that the procedure concerned applications for visas for foreigners to work in Poland.
Main photo source: TVN24