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Zero-sum game: Why Warsaw plays "Ukrainian refugees" card

Author : Eugene Magda

19:17, 23 February 2017
Zero-sum game: Why Warsaw plays "Ukrainian refugees" card

Author : Eugene Magda

"Ukrainian factor" is used as a shield from Brussels claims about the failure of arrangements for admission of asylum seekers

19:17, 23 February 2017

Read the original text at eurointegration.com.ua.

 

eurointegration.com.ua

The policy of "Law and Justice" (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość - PiS) on Ukraine can hardly be called consistent. Voicing slogans in support of Ukraine, a year after the final transition from opposition to power, "PiS" became anti-Ukrainian.

Today the "Ukrainian factor" is used by Polish officials for quite pragmatic and cynical purpose: to show Brussels that Ukrainian refugees are an adequate substitute for people from the Middle East and North Africa, whom conservative Polish society does not really wants to see on their own territory.

Other Visegrad countries are watching the steps of Warsaw, who feel skepticism about refugees. For some reasons, Central Europe is not too eager to share the burden of asylum with their EU partners.

Related: Ukraine's nationalism of 20th century was anti-Western, anti-Semitic, anti-Polish

Official Warsaw uses conflict in Donbas as convenient way to avoid the obligation of receiving refugees.

Back in January 2016, Polish Prime Beata Szydlo announced in Brussels that Poland has adopted a million Ukrainian refugees. She was quickly corrected by the Ukrainian ambassador in Warsaw Andriy Deshchytsia, who noted that in 2015 Poland gained refugee status only two Ukrainian citizens.

During 2016, the situation changed not too dramatically: 34 citizen of Ukraine (out of almost 6000 who submitted an application) received status of refugees.

Related: The new battle of Polish and Ukrainian historians

However, this does not prevent Polish officials from raising the subject in the media.

Quite significant is the position of Mateusz Moravetsky, Deputy Chairman of The Council of Ministers, the Minister of Development and Finance of Poland. The views of this official, who is often called the main candidate for the premiership, have changed significantly just over half a year: in September last year at the International Economic Forum in Krynica, he spoke of the need "to warmly meet " 1-2 million Ukrainian (they are able to compensate for the shortage of force) in Poland. Last week in an interview to "Deutsche Welle", he stressed that Poland took hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Related: March participants shouted "Death to Ukrainians" near Ukrainian center in Polish city Przemysl

And Witold Waszczykowski, Minister of Foreign Affairs, during a speech at the Munich security conference expressed the belief that majority of the 650,000 holders of work visas that Poland have issued to Ukrainians, remains in the territory of the Polish state. Another "pearl" of Waszczykowski was recent allegations that Ukrainian guest workers send 5 billion euros to their homes.

And there is no evidence of these claims, on the contrary, they are refuted by the facts.

Related: Ukrainian and Polish memorials in Kyiv region desecrated by vandals

But the Polish government, unfortunately, did not dare admit that cheap labor of the Ukrainian citizens allows not only to fill gaps in the labor market, but also to successfully implement the program 500+, “flirting” with their own electorate.

Instead, "Ukrainian factor" is used as a shield from Brussels claims about the failure of arrangements for admission of asylum seekers.

The situation is paradoxical, because the presidents of Poland and Ukraine show a fairly high level of confidence, while the party fellows of Andrzej Duda repeatedly “throw stones at Ukraine’s garden”. Against this background, the citizens of our country's might face some possible problems with employment in Poland, and no one voices concrete steps related to fighting against xenophobia and anti-Ukrainian attacks.

Related: Poland to sue Ukraine for damages on former Polish territories

Sometimes it seems as though officially the citizens of our state are not perceived as citizens of an independent state, but like residents of interwar Poland "B".

Juggling the topic of Ukrainian "refugees", Warsaw, perhaps, is not noticing a kind of twine sits between Ukraine and the EU, as its senior voice very contradictive theses.

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