Poland can take in more refugees than EU quota: minister

PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW - Poland's foreign minister on Monday said Warsaw was able to take in more refugees than its share of over 9,000 under the European Union quota plan but would like to see the bloc's borders sealed.

The eastern EU member has so far agreed to accept only 2,000 refugees as Europe struggles to cope with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

Warsaw however insists on accepting asylum seekers on a voluntary basis, rejecting the obligatory quotas proposed by the European Commission.

"Poland is able to take in more refugees on a voluntary basis than those stipulated by the compulsory quotas proposed by the European Commission," Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna wrote in an opinion piece in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, without specifying a number.

"But for this to happen, comprehensive and effective changes must be made by the European Union and its member states on organising political asylum and migration," he added in the editorial also published by several other European news outlets.

"We need to strike the right balance between helping those in need and guaranteeing the security of our citizens." The migrant influx has created a deep rift between western and eastern EU members, with hardliners like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia opposed to the obligatory quotas championed by Germany.

The foreign ministers of the four eastern states are due to meet in Prague later Monday to discuss the migrant crisis along with their counterparts from Latvia, Romania and Luxembourg, which holds the EU presidency.

"The first priority must be to seal EU borders. Only by doing so will we be able to avoid further chaos and brutal skirmishes on the frontiers," Schetyna said in the editorial.

"We must make sure that extradition agreements are enforced. Thorough border controls have to be implemented." He also called on the EU to "invest in reception centres for refugees," where they would be identified as either refugees or economic migrants.

He added that the EU must also help bolster stability in the countries from which the refugees are fleeing by playing "a more active role in helping defuse conflicts, in particular in Syria and Libya."

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