Poland is the first European Union country to react to the ISIS attacks in Paris, which killed 127 people, by changing its approach to the refugee crisis happening in Europe.
In September, the E.U. agreed to a program to help countries on the front lines of the refugee crisis (Italy, Greece, and Hungry), by spreading 120,000 from those countries across the Union, which is made up of 28 countries. The scheme has been controversial, and the incoming government in Poland has decided to pull the plug on its participation.
The newly elected Law and Justice Party of Poland will take power on Monday, with Konrad Szymanski becoming the minister for European affairs. The party was already opposed to the fact that the outgoing government voted along with Germany and France for the E.U.-mandated refugee quotas.
The refugee crisis was a key issue during Poland’s recent election, and the Paris attacks have given the right-leaning, Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party another reason not cooperate with the quota mandate.
“The attacks mean the necessity of an even deeper revision of the European policy towards the migrant crisis. We’ll accept (refugees only) if we have security guarantees. This is a key condition, and today a question mark has been put next to it all around Europe … in the face of the tragic acts in Paris, we do not see the political possibilities to implement.”
DW quotes Witold Waszczykowski, Poland’s incoming foreign minister, issuing a warning, saying that Europe must “approach in a different fashion the Muslim community living in Europe which hates this continent and wishes to destroy it.”
Poland joined Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia in going against the E.U.’s mandated quotas, after initially being the first to break from the so-called “Visegrad group” of former communist countries and agreeing to the quotas.
After the attacks in Paris, the incoming Prime Minister of Poland, Beata Syzdio, visited the French Institute in Krakow on Saturday, where she lit a candle. She didn’t comment on the refugee situation, but did say her government was committed to making Polish citizens feel safe.
As it is, the situation for refugees streaming into Europe was becoming harder, with Austria, Germany, and Sweden declaring that they would institute border controls, Slovenia and Hungary fortifying their borders, and, in a direct response to the attacks in Paris, France placed temporary controls and checks on its own borders.
Refugees coming to Europe have already been facing resistance by right-wing groups and political parties that have been growing in popularity as the result of anti-refugee sentiment. Fears are that this sentiment will increase in the wake of the attacks in Paris, and this has Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, concerned.
“I would like to make this urgent plea to avoid drawing such swift links to the situation surrounding refugees … [there have already been] appalling scales of attacks against asylum seekers and asylum seeker shelters.”
Reports appear to suggest at least one of the assailants in the Paris attack had entered Europe through Greece as a refugee on October 3. ISIS warned that it would send fighters into Europe imbedded within the refugees, and this already had opponents to refugee plans concerned about security.
In France, the leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, used strong rhetoric after the attacks, similar to the rhetoric coming out of Poland, calling for more border controls and better security.
“It is vital that France regains control of its borders, once and for all. France was made vulnerable. It was subjected to the collapse of its defense capabilities. It must rearm.”
In the days and weeks following the Paris attacks, the question will be how many more hurdles will refugees flooding into Europe end up facing as the result of increased security fears, and how many countries will start to follow the path of countries like Poland.
[Photo by Carl Court / Getty Images]