An interview with Mateusz Morawiecki – Poland’s premier warns of 50 million migrants

For days, Europe has been staring at the besieged border between Poland and Belarus: Can a breakthrough by migrants be prevented? Does dictator Lukashenko fail with his blackmail attempt against the EU?

BILD interview with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (53).

BILD: Prime Minister, riots and water cannons on the border with Belarus, injured border police officers. Is the situation getting out of hand?

Mateusz Morawiecki: “The situation is stable at the moment, but it is becoming more and more threatening. The migrants are used as weapons by Belarus. And their destinations are Germany, France, the Netherlands. So we are defending all of Europe on our border. “

Belarusians and Poles face each other at the border fence. How great is the danger of war?

Morawiecki: “I hope everyone keeps their cool. The Belarusian forces are provoking more and more clearly. I hope you don’t take that one step too far. Because we Poles are determined to protect our border by all means. The eastern border of Europe and also NATO. “

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (53)Photo: Giorgos Moutafis

What do you fear?

Morawiecki: “One thing is clear: if we are not in a position to keep thousands of immigrants out now, then there will soon be hundreds of thousands, millions, heading for Europe. If we do not decisively protect and defend our borders in Europe, hundreds of millions from Africa or the Middle East will try to get to Europe and especially to Germany. Over 80 million people live in Germany – would you allow another 50 million to come? I think that the people in Germany would not be happy about it because they want to keep their standard of living. They want to keep their culture.

Do you expect support from NATO – and thus also from Germany?

Morawiecki: “If it becomes necessary, there are escalation levels. First of all, I am pleased that the leaders of other NATO countries have expressed their support. These include Chancellor Angela Merkel and her soon-to-be successor Olaf Scholz. The next step would be a firm declaration by Belarus’ neighbors: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia. Another step could be to activate Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which officially declares the violation of their national territories … “

… and thus prepared a possible intervention by the NATO allies. So do you see the threat of war looming?

Morawiecki: “We can’t rule anything out. Lukashenko and Putin are obviously following a strategy to unsettle and destabilize the West. We don’t know what else they are planning. It is also possible that the crisis on the border is only intended to distract from new military attacks that Putin is preparing in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, I hope that international pressure will work and that it will remain with the 20,000 or so immigrants who are now sitting in Belarus. If the influx is stopped, the EU could also help to fly these people back to their homeland. “

In 2015 it was said again and again in Germany that borders could not be protected. Are you proving otherwise?

Morawiecki: “Naturally. We stand closed at our limit. And hardly anyone gets through, even though thousands try every night and every day. That shows: you can successfully protect your borders. And as a sovereign state, you have to guarantee that. The same applies to Europe: we must do everything we can to protect our borders on the Mediterranean Sea and in the east from immigration. “

So walls around Europe?

Morawiecki: “We need every form of protection and surveillance to ward off attacks. Be it a wall, a fence or electronic systems that immediately report any intrusion. “

The refugees try to keep themselves warm with fires, with the falling temperatures their situation worsens

The refugees try to keep themselves warm with fires, with the falling temperatures their situation worsensPhoto: Ulf Mauder / dpa

Refugees on their way to the Polish border. Poland Prime Minister Morawiecki warns of 50 million refugees

Refugees on their way to the Polish borderPhoto: Oksana Manchuk/dpa

Then why not use the help of the EU border agency Frontex? It is based in your capital.

Morawiecki: “At the moment there are more than 15,000 soldiers on our eastern border, plus border guards and police. Frontex has just under 1000 officers for such missions – for all of Europe! Why should we try it if we can do it ourselves? “

Has Angela Merkel failed in refugee policy?

Morawiecki: “Oh, absolutely. I think politics from five to six years ago were not adequate politics. It endangered the sovereignty of many European states and created an artificial multiculturalism. That was a dangerous policy for Europe and for the world. “

Nevertheless, there is criticism that the way you deal with refugees at the border does not comply with European law, that you ignore requests for asylum, and push cold and injured people back across the border.

Morawiecki: “The opposite is true: people who are found on this side of the border in the forest are either taken to the hospital or to a camp where they can apply for asylum. In this way we saved many people from death by cold. “

But Poland’s new laws also allow push-backs – contrary to EU law.

Morawiecki: “Border protection must be effective. That is why we have to be able to push back people who violate our limits. “

You have set up a restricted zone along your border fence. Why can’t journalists, human rights organizations, even members of parliament convince themselves that things are going on at the border using the rule of law?

Morawiecki: “Because many of the helpers and politicians took advantage of the situation for their own propaganda. And even destroyed border installations. We couldn’t tolerate that. By the way: there will soon be an information center at the border for journalists so that reporters can get information. “

Chancellor Merkel has spoken to Lukashenko on the phone in the past few days. Was that against your will?

Morawiecki: “For me, one thing is certain: in this crisis, no decision can be made over our heads. If the phone call was about how the migrants from Belarus are brought back to their home countries, then every initiative in this direction is in the interests of Poland. “

When you speak to the likely new Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the near future: What will you tell him?

Morawiecki: “I will tell him: We are defending the EU border here in Poland! And when we talk about the bigger picture: Let’s work together for peace and not give Vladimir Putin extra money through energy payments so that he can continue to arm. “

So you will say to Scholz: “Stop Nord Stream 2!”

Morawiecki: “Yes, of course, Nord Stream 2 has to be stopped!”

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An interview with Mateusz Morawiecki – Poland’s premier warns of 50 million migrants