The Polish government has officially introduced a state of emergency on the country’s border with Belarus to stem migrants crossing illegally. The migrants, many of whom say they want to seek asylum in Poland, are part of the effort by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to fly people from the Middle East and send them across borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland as a way of exerting pressure on the EU.
Minister of the interior Mariusz Kamiński announced that the restrictions near the border will minimally affect only the inhabitants of towns in which the state of emergency has been enacted. They will, however, introduce strong limitations for people from the outside.
He emphasized that there would be no trips, events or public manifestations in those regions. People in the areas under the state of emergency will also have to carry an identity card on them as well.
The government’s motion to introduce the state of emergency was also supported by President Andrzej Duda. Within 48 hours, the president will send an ordinance to the Polish Parliament that may reject the ordinance with an absolute majority.
Until the ordinance is potentially rejected, however, the state of emergency will be enacted. The parliament may also decide to support the president. The opposition is in general unanimously opposed to the state of emergency.
Duda had assured on Tuesday that he would make the decision to introduce the state of emergency as soon as possible.
“I hope that when I make that decision, then it will be met with the support of the Polish parliament. I hope that it will also be supported by the opposition’s representatives,” he said.
According to the bill on states of emergency, the president immediately considers the government’s motion to introduce the state of emergency and later releases an ordinance on imposing a state of emergency for an unstated period but no longer than 90 days. The president may also refuse to issue such an ordinance.
Title image: Polish police forces guarding the Polish-Belarusian border, (source: TVP Info video grab).