Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said on Thursday that Europe should do all it can to stop illegal migrants from entering, though the country is prepared to share the burden of giving shelter to refugees in genuine need.
“All must be done to stop immigration at Europe’s borders. We have to defend ourselves against illegal, uncontrolled immigration,” Schetyna told public broadcaster TVP1.
The European Union is struggling to cope with its biggest influx of refugees since World War Two, most fleeing war or extreme poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is expecting to cater for some 800,000 this year alone, said on Tuesday refugees should be distributed across the EU according to member states’ ability to receive them.
In July, Poland agreed to accept more than 2,000 refugees from Syria and North Africa by 2017.
“Poland shows solidarity, the gesture confirms this. …Today’s situation is very dramatic. Questions about future numbers arise. … We’re ready for further discussion and accepting tough decisions,” Schetyna added.
He said Poland was also facing pressure from the east, as economic migrants from Ukraine flee the conflict in the country’s east, and was aware any escalation of the conflict could trigger a huge wave of refugees.
Poland will take part in a summit of central European states in Prague on Friday that will seek to forge a common position on the crisis.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by John Stonestreet)