Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on Wednesday said Warsaw would not take in its share of migrants under an EU plan because of the jihadist attacks that killed 31 people in Brussels.
Poland is the first EU member to take such a step after Tuesday’s bombings at the Brussels airport and metro, which also left 270 wounded — including three Poles — and were claimed by the Islamic State group.
“After what happened in Brussels yesterday, it’s not possible right now to say that we’re OK with accepting any number of migrants at all,” Szydlo told private television Superstacja.
Her conservative and euroskeptic Law and Justice (PiS) government had earlier been willing to welcome the 7,000 refugees agreed by its liberal predecessors under Ewa Kopacz.
Europe is grappling with its worst migrant crisis since World War II. Last year alone some 1.2 million people flooded into the EU, most of them Syrians fleeing via Turkey and Greece.
“We’re forced above all to ensure the security of our fellow citizens,” Szydlo said, urging Europe against accepting “thousands of migrants who come here only to improve their life conditions.”
Among these migrants “there are also terrorists.”
The first refugees were due to arrive in Poland in late March or early April, after EU leaders forced through a one-off controversial deal last September to relocate 120,000 refugees among member states.
The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia had voted against the deal, while Poland had been in favor under its then Civic Platform (PO) government.
Szydlo defended the careful approach to migrants taken by Poland and its fellow Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia) as well as Croatia and Romania.
“Our stance is very cautious, which gives rise to major criticism from other countries in what we call the old EU, who hastily agreed to this influx of migrants into Europe,” she said.
“This carelessness is the source of the problems we now face.”
After the attacks in Brussels and earlier in Paris, “I regret to have to say that the EU is not drawing lessons from what is happening,” she added.