Poland to snub UN migration pact, Slovakia has reservations

Three men in suits walking in front of flags

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Secretary of State for European Affairs, Konrad Szymanski, both from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, arrive at the EU leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 18, 2018.

 

 

Credit:

Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Poland's government said on Tuesday it would join a growing list of mainly ex-Communist European countries planning to snub a UN pact on regulating migration. Slovakia's leader said he also had reservations.

Approved in July by all 193 UN member nations except the United States, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration addresses issues such as how to protect people who migrate, integrate them into new countries or safety return them home.

Related: Migrants stuck in Serbia play a desperate 'game' to reach the EU

Drafted following the biggest influx of migrants into Europe since World War II, most fleeing war or poverty in the Middle East and Africa, the non-binding pact is due to be adopted next month by heads of government at a meeting in Morocco.

Poland said it would not be endorsing the document.

"[It] doesn't meet Polish demands regarding strong guarantees for countries to have the right to independently decide [who] they choose to accept," the government in Warsaw said in a statement.

Poland's ruling Law and Justice party has maintained strong anti-migrant rhetoric since it took office in 2015, and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki indicated earlier this month he was likely to reject the pact.

An estimated 1 million Ukrainian migrants live and work in Poland.

Hungary, Czech Republic and Bulgaria have already rejected the pact, and Austria has said it does not plan to adopt it either.

Related: EU cuts migration deal after marathon talks, differences remain

In Bratislava, Slovakia's Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said he was concerned his country might be required to take in more migrants than it wanted to.

"Our red lines are obligations that would limit our sovereignty to decide about accepting migrants," he told reporters after a government meeting.

His foreign minister, who oversaw the drafting of the pact last year while serving as president of the UN General Assembly, threatened to quit the government if Slovakia rejected it.

Miroslav Lajcak said the issue was "being hijacked by populists, xenophobes and nationalists," and if Pellegrini's leftist ruling Smer party did not trust him, "I can't be the minister of foreign affairs."

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