A simmering feud between Poland and Germany has widened with the closure of a bridge between the two countries.
The bridge is not completely closed. Rather, it’s closed if you look like a Syrian refugee.
That’s just the beginning of Polish-German tensions over refugees.
Please consider Bridge Linking Poland to Germany is Now a Barrier Against Migrants.
The twinned towns of Germany’s Frankfurt an der Oder and Poland’s Slubice, neighbouring places separated only by a meandering stretch of the Oder river, have a motto: No borders.
That is, unless you happen to be a Syrian refugee. At the Polish end of the bridge that connects the two cities, a pair of policemen look for refugees coming over from Germany, scanning the faces of those crossing on foot, on bicycles and inside vehicles.
“They permanently monitor the area around the bridge and check people of specific looks, and check if they have the right to cross to the Polish side. And these people know now that they cannot simply come here,” Tomasz Ciszewicz, mayor of Slubice, told the Financial Times.
He monitors people crossing the bridge through a camera connected to his desk computer.
The approach by Germany and Poland to the European migration crisis could not be more opposed. Berlin has championed an EU plan to share refugees between member states to ease the burden on Greece and Italy, where the overwhelming majority enter the continent.
By contrast, Poland’s rightwing government has made it clear that newcomers are not welcome. Warsaw has refused to support the EU’s relocation programme, and it is resisting the arrival of the first batch of 7,000 refugees that the previous administration agreed to relocate — with the support of 70 per cent of its public, according to a poll this month.
This closed-door stance has been condemned by some European politicians as a rejection of the EU’s liberal values. It has also become one of the most striking effects of Poland’s change of government, after a landslide victory in October ushered in the broadly nationalist and Eurosceptic Law and Justice party after eight years of a liberal centre-right government.
Poland’s government — in conjunction with central European allies in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — has not only refused to sign up to the EU’s relocation plan, but has actively sought to repeal it.
“I cannot see a possibility to implement this [relocation system] . . . it is dead,” Konrad Szymanski, Poland’s Europe minister, told Polish daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna last week.
Not only did Merkel work out an agreement with Turkey that will never fly, her refugee relocation program is dead as well.
Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia all want to repeal the agreement.
That’s not necessary. If Germany wants refugees, let Germany have them. The problem for Germany is Germany doesn’t really want more refugees. Rather chancellor Merkel does.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock