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Toyota in pole position as Warsaw kick-starts electric car road trip

Toyota has picked the region of Silesia in southern Poland as the site for a new car factory. As Europe turns its back on diesel cars, the rush is on for electric and hybrid cars and Poland wants to be in on the action. Toyota has started production of hybrid electric transaxles at its Walbrzych plant in the southwest of Poland. The launch of the production line a few days ago means the Japanese car giant for the first time manufactures this key component, used to link electric motors and combustion engines, outside Asia, and it's a new step for both the Japanese auto giant and the eastern European country. Production at Walbrzych comes as Toyota introduces its advanced hybrid technology and the Toyota New Global Architecture to its Polish manufacturing facilities. The new assembly line is part of an investment of over 4.5-billion zloty (€1.1 billion, $ 1.4 billion). Toyota said it aimed to keep production close to its sales markets in Europe. The transaxle will be fitted to the new Corolla Hybrid, built at Toyota's Burnaston factory in the UK, and the C-HR Hybrid, made in Turkey. "In 2000, with the premiere of the first hybrid model, we have paved the way to electrification of cars in Europe," Johan van Zyl, president of Toyota Motor Europe, told Business Insider Polska. Almost every second car leaving Toyota showrooms was already a hybrid car, van Zyl added. Toyota focused on Europe Toyota's operations in Poland started in 2002 with the production of gearboxes for the Yaris model in Walbrzych, mainly for customers from Turkey and the UK. In 2017, Toyota's two Polish factories, Walbrzych and Jelcz-Laskowice, merged and since then Toyota has been able to service its car assembly plants in the Czech Republic, the UK, France, Turkey, Russia, South Africa and Japan with parts produced at its Polish facilities. Toyota is seeing a significant increase in sales of its hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles in Europe. The share of hybrid vehicles among its total sales in October reached 45 percent, double the levels before Volkswagen's (VW's) "Dieselgate" scandal. Growth at the Japanese manufacturer has been driven by hybrids — led by the C-HR compact SUV and the RAV4 SUV — and it's targeting European sales of more than 1 million vehicles. Tighter rules The market for diesel-powered cars has weakened in the wake of VW's emissions-cheating scandal and tougher pollution regulations introduced by the European Union. By 2021, the fleet CO2 average emissions for automakers in Europe must drop to 95 grams per kilometer (g/km) from 118.1g/km today and companies that don't reach the target will be hit with fines. In 2016, Toyota's fleet average was 105.4g/km. "The more hybrids we sell, the better our chances" of reaching the target, Toyota Europe Chairman Didier Leroy said. Poland's new industrial revolution Polish automotive plants are no longer purely assembly plants, playing a role in the development of new technologies. A Warsaw-based think tank, Exact Systems, expects Poland to catch up with the most advanced automotive markets within five years, although this may be a tad too optimistic. But Polish manufacturing is making its mark in the electric bus market with companies such as Solaris, Ursus and Solbus. China's biggest producer of electric-vehicle batteries, LG Chem, has already built its largest European manufacturing site in Poland. Today, electric vehicles (EVs) account for just a small fraction of car sales in Poland — 1,068 new ones were registered last year, up from 569 in 2016 and out of 216,566 in the EU as a whole, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. "We are extremely pleased that Toyota has decided to start production of a key hybrid drive component in Poland," Jan Wisniewski from the Polish Association of Alternative Fuels, PSPA, told DW. Other EV projects by foreign manufacturers include a factory in Wrzesnia, where German carmaker Volkswagen will build its electric e-Crafter model, and truck maker MAN its eTGE fully-electric van. In the region of Wroclaw, premium automaker Daimler is preparing to start a factory that will produce engines for, among others, Mercedes plug-in hybrids. US auto group Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is also reportedly considering starting production of a zero-emission version of Fiat 500 in the Polish town of Tychy. "The potential of Poland in the field of electromobility is very large and we hope that in the near future we will become one of the European leaders in this sector," Wisniewski said. Big plans Poland's Electromobility Development Plan, adopted by the government of prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki in 2017, plans for one million electric cars on the road by 2025. The Prime Minister said that electric cars are to account for 10 percent of cars in the public administration by 2020, rising later to 50 percent. To support the increase in electric cars, the government wants to build 6,000 charging stations by the end of 2020, plus 400 fast-charging stations. Warsaw wants to make electric mobility an "integral part of Poland's economic development, combining scientific research, entrepreneurship and state support." Already home to electric bus manufacturing plants and a big EV battery plant, Poland is aiming to become the motor for electrifying transport in Europe. "We are really pioneers," said Marta Gajecka, head of energy advisers to the President of the Republic of Poland. "Electrifying transport has the potential to enable cheaper and more reliable access to mobility. Electromobility forms a central component of the EU's ambition to decarbonize its economy in line with the Paris Agreement," she recently told the European energy industry weekly, The Energy Post. An increase in EVs in Poland is urgently needed to improve air quality, especially in the capital Warsaw, where road transport is the main source of air pollution. Poland is also almost entirely dependent on imported oil, most of which comes from Russia (76 percent in 2017, down from 96 percent in 2012), to meet transport demand. A shift to more electric vehicles on its roads would help lower that burden. The emergence of a new industry in Poland could also have a wider economic impact. According to a report by Cambridge Econometrics and the Warsaw-based Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation, the electrification of transport in Poland could create 50,800 jobs and boost the economy by 0.3 percent by 2030.

Toyota has picked the region of Silesia in southern Poland as the site for a new car factory. As Europe turns its back on diesel cars, the rush is on for electric and hybrid cars and Poland wants to be in on the action. Toyota has started production of hybrid electric transaxles at its Walbrzych plant in the southwest of ... Read More »

Walesa: Germany must assume a leading role in Europe

Germany needs to put its complexes aside and assume a leadership role in Europe, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa said in an interview with DW. DW: Where is Europe headed at the moment? Lech Walesa: That's a good question, and one that we need to find an answer for. We need to take a hard look at Europe's foundations, its economic system, its democratic model. We have to come to terms with populism, demagoguery, and abuse of political office. We have to take the mood on the street seriously, because people are unhappy, they have lost trust in established parties. Look at France: None of the established parties had a candidate in the run-off vote. Their new president is an independent, without the backing of a party. That teaches us that the structures we have don't fit with the reality. We're entering a new epoch, and we need a debate about new structures. On June 4, 2014, former US President Barack Obama gave a historic speech in Warsaw's Royal Square before many European heads of state, and he thanked you for your contribution to the fall of communism and the liberation of Eastern Europe. How do you feel when you see that same location serving as the backdrop to a march by right-wing radical nationalists, as was the case a few days ago? We don't have any solutions. And in the absence of solutions, demons will awaken. Some will go too far to the right in their search, others - like in the United States - will make an astonishing choice. And this is why we have to drive the debate forward in the search for better solutions. We have to improve our democracy, because if we don't, there will be a revolt. Which direction do you see Poland headed at the moment? Poland is moving too far to the right, and there is also too much mixing of religion with politics. People are trying things, because a lot of what we have built up in Poland since the fall of communism is incomplete. What's happening now is a response to undesirable developments, and it is challenging us to find good solutions. But it's the same situation you see across all of Europe. The discontent is everywhere, so now we need heal what ails us. The government in Poland is pursuing the wrong kind of therapy. You have to solve problems, but not in a way that breaks with democratic principles. What can be done, then, to stop the rise of populism? We have to be clear about what we don't like. We need to create the appropriate programs and structures, and use our power at the ballot box to force politicians to implement them. The right-wing scene in Poland likes to employ anti-German sentiment and paint horrific scenarios about German dominance. Do you think Germany is a threat? I feel I have the right to address this point, because I lost my father in the war. Today, Germany is the most honorable country in Europe. But the Germans have complexes. They need to put these complexes aside and assume a leading role in Europe, because as the largest power, they bear responsibility for Europe's development. We can see that there are forces out there that want to destroy Europe. It's up to Germany to be prepared for this, and to be ready to establish a new, better Europe! Interview conducted by Bartosz Dudek.

Germany needs to put its complexes aside and assume a leadership role in Europe, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa said in an interview with DW. DW: Where is Europe headed at the moment? Lech Walesa: That’s a good question, and one that we need to find an answer for. We need to take a hard ... Read More »

Poland accuses Russians of deliberately causing jet crash

Polish prosecutors have said they will press charges against three Russian air controllers for deliberately causing the 2010 crash that killed Poland's President and 95 others. Russia has rejected the allegations. Polish prosecutors said on Monday that new evidence into the 2010 plane crash near Smolensk in western Russia suggested that two Russian air traffic controllers and a third official in the control tower had deliberately contributed to the accident. According to the prosecutors, the evidence was taken from recorded conversations between the plane's pilots and the Russian controllers. However, the prosecutors said that no further details could be revealed before investigators had questioned the three men implicated in the probe. The crash in April 2010 killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, as well as the country's central bank chief, a number of high ranking military chief of staff and several lawmakers. The officials were headed to Russia's Katyn forest to commemorate the 22,000 Polish officers executed by Soviet secret police in 1940 - a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990. Although previous enquiries attributed the disaster to human error and bad weather, Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) party, led by Kaczynski's twin bother Jaroslaw, believes the crash was deliberate and has been conducting its own probe. Jaroslaw Kaczynski has made a range of allegations about to crash, suggesting that there was an explosive onboard, that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the assassination and that former Premier and current EU President Donald Tusk was complicit in the orchestrating the crash and hindering the subsequent investigation. "An analysis of the evidence ... has allowed prosecutors to formulate new charges against air traffic controllers, citizens of the Russian Federation," Polish Deputy Prosecutor General Marek Pasionek told a news conference. The individuals implicated in the probe were guilty of "deliberately causing a catastrophe... that resulted in the deaths of many people," he said. The Polish government had already pressed charges against the two air traffic controllers in 2015, one for "being directly responsible for having endangered air traffic" and the other for "unintentionally causing an air traffic disaster." The latest charges, however, are much more serious, suggesting the men had deliberately sought to crash the plane. Russia disputes accusations The Russian government responded quickly to reject the PiS' accusations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that "of course we cannot agree with such statements." "You know that an investigation is also ongoing on the Russian side. The circumstances of this tragedy, this catastrophe, are already very well elucidated and investigated," he said. A previous Russia-led investigation into the crash found that the fault lay exclusively with the Polish pilot, placing no blame on the Russian air controllers. The Polish government has also repeatedly called on Moscow to return the plane wreckage, something Russia says it will only do once it has completed its own inquiry into the accident. However, Polish prosecutors said that fragments of the plane would be sent to labs abroad to check of evidence of explosives, while justice officials have also been exhuming the victims' remains to establish the cause of death.

Polish prosecutors have said they will press charges against three Russian air controllers for deliberately causing the 2010 crash that killed Poland’s President and 95 others. Russia has rejected the allegations. Polish prosecutors said on Monday that new evidence into the 2010 plane crash near Smolensk in western Russia suggested that two Russian air traffic controllers and a third official ... Read More »

Donald Tusk re-elected as European Council president despite Poland’s objections

Multiple sources report that Poland's Donald Tusk has been re-elected as the head of the European Council. His home country Poland, now governed by fierce opponents of Tusk, had sought to block the move. Former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was re-elected as President of the European Council on Thursday in Brussels. Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel, tweeted in Latin, saying "we have a European Council president. Good luck Donald." Bettel was playing on the language used to announce a new pope's choosing. Tusk took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the result. "Thank you for keeping your fingers crossed and for your heart-felt support. It helped!" Tusk received strong support from most of the leaders of the 28 nation bloc. However, Poland's ruling PiS party - which is rather lukewarm on the EU itself - is a staunch opponent of Tusk and had sought to block his re-election to the role.

Multiple sources report that Poland’s Donald Tusk has been re-elected as the head of the European Council. His home country Poland, now governed by fierce opponents of Tusk, had sought to block the move. Former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was re-elected as President of the European Council on Thursday in Brussels. Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, tweeted in Latin, ... Read More »

Euro 2016: Portugal beat Poland on penalties to reach last four

The first Euro 2016 quarter-final was a close one, with Portugal overcoming Poland in a shoot-out. The Poles took the lead, but the Portuguese shaded it on the night and progress to the semis after Blaszczikowski's miss. Coach Adam Nawalka opted not to tinker with a starting eleven that had taken Poland further than ever in its history in a European Championship. His counterpart Fernando Santos did opt for some changes, including the introduction of 18-year-old midfield wunderkind Renato Sanches. Bayern Munich rated him highly enough pay Benfica a 35-million euro transfer fee to bring him in next season. The night in Marseille started with some Polish fireworks. In the second minute, Cedric misjudged a long Lukas Piszczek pass, and the ball fell to Kamil Grosicki. He squared it for Robert Lewandowski, and the Bayern striker fired in his first goal of the tournament to give Poland an early lead. Poland continued to impress, although they failed to generate clear openings in front of Portugal's goal, and gradually the Portugese came back into the match. In the 33rd minute, Sanches played a one-two with Nani in the Polish area and hammered in the equalizer. The ball slightly deflected off Grzegorz Krychowiak, leaving keeper Lukasz Fabianski with no chance. The score was all knotted up at halftime. After the break, the teams were in cagier mode, each team fearing a conceded goal could be a decider. The first real chance was a screamer by Cedric just after the hour mark, but it was slightly wide. Poland responded around seven minutes later, but Arkadiusz Milik couldn't get anything behind a promising cross. Ten minutes from time, defender Artur Jedrzejczek almost decided the outcome with a poked reverse clearance that was centimeters from becoming an own goal. And five minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo was finally sent through, but he failed to get his foot to what looked like an easy ball. The game went to extra time - a fair result after 90 minutes in which Portugal had held a slight advantage. Play became even more buttoned down. Milik and Nené had a go from distance in the first half but produced nothing to unduly trouble either keeper. In the second half, the highlight was a pitch invader, who was quickly subdued by security. Other than that, extra time provided evidence for those who think penalty shoot-outs should commence immediately after 90 minutes. The match boiled down to a penalty shoot-out. With the score at 4-3 for Portugal, Rui Patricio got down to parry a Jakub Blaszczikowski's shot, which was at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper. Ricardo Queresma held his nerve for the winner. The final scoreline read 1-1 (3-5 penalties). Amazingly, Portugal are now through to the Euro 2016 semis despite not winning a single game in 90 or 120 minutes. They meet the winner of the Wales-Belgium quarter-final on Friday.

The first Euro 2016 quarter-final was a close one, with Portugal overcoming Poland in a shoot-out. The Poles took the lead, but the Portuguese shaded it on the night and progress to the semis after Blaszczikowski’s miss. Coach Adam Nawalka opted not to tinker with a starting eleven that had taken Poland further than ever in its history in a ... Read More »

Euro 2016: Ronaldo and Lewandowski search for spark in quarterfinal

In Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski, Poland and Portugal boast two of the world’s deadliest strikers but neither the sides nor their star men have set Euro 2016 alight. That could all change on Thursday. While Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Hungary in the final group game, the Real Madrid superstar hasn’t been at his best. His missed penalty in the 0-0 draw with Austria was partially responsible for the Iberian nation’s third-placed finish in group F. For his part, Lewandowski has failed to find the net in any of Poland’s four games thus far, though he did score his penalty in Poland’s 5-4 penalty win over Switzerland in the Round of 16. That win booked Poland’s maiden European Championship quarterfinal on Thursday and assistant manager Hubert Malowiejski expects his main man to rise to the occasion. "We are not worried about Robert, not at all," he said. "Of course he felt some pain after that match, but there is not even the slightest bit of doubt he will be ready for Portugal." Portugal reached the last eight with a drab 1-0 victory over Croatia and have drawn criticism in some quarters for the perceived negativity of an approach that contributed to neither side registering a shot on target in 90 minutes. Despite being largely shackled for most of the game, Ronaldo did eventually make an impact when his shot was parried in to the path of Ricardo Quaresma, who nodded home the winner. Portugal defender Jose Fonte said that any team with a player of Ronaldo’s ability cannot be discounted. "We'll always have a chance. We've got the best player in the world - Ronaldo - and the likes of Nani, Quaresma and Joao Mario," he said. "If we have to play bad and win, I'll do it. As a team you want to play good football and win games but sometimes you can't." If he does score past a stingy Polish defense who have conceded just one goal in the tournament, Ronaldo will match Michel Platini’s European Championship scoring record of nine. He has already become the first player to score in four Euros and broken the competition record for appearances. The winner of the match in Marseille will meet Wales or Belgium, who play on Friday, in the first semifinal in Lyon on July 6.

In Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski, Poland and Portugal boast two of the world’s deadliest strikers but neither the sides nor their star men have set Euro 2016 alight. That could all change on Thursday. While Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Hungary in the final group game, the Real Madrid superstar hasn’t been at his best. ... Read More »

Euro 2016: Germany and Poland play to scoreless draw

Call this one the match that refused to believe the hype. Germany and Poland cancel one another out in a less than scintillating 0-0 draw, where the two defenses came up trumps. The result was a yawner. Germany and Poland convened in Paris-St. Denis for the match everyone expected would determine the winner of Group C. The defending World Cup winners were the clear favorites, but they were mindful that Poland had beaten them during Euro 2016 qualifiers. Germany coach Jogi Löw made one change to the starting eleven that beat Ukraine, replacing Shkodran Mustafi with convalescent Mats Hummels at the back. The Poles were forced to go with back-up keeper Lukasz Fabianski after an injury to Wojciech Szczesny. As expected, the Germans took the attacking role. In minute three, Julian Draxler found Mario Götze in space with a cross, but the Bayern player couldn't keep his header down. What followed were 42 minutes of tedium. If Germany had ideas other than lobbing balls in Götze's general direction, they didn't show them. The Germans had almost 70 percent of possession but managed only eight shots on goal, none of them dangerous. For their part, the Poles seemed content with a draw, and the teams headed for the changing rooms with the score nil-nil. Poland almost ripped the games from the doldrums thirty seconds after the restart, but Arkadiusz Milik failed to get to a cross that had both Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer beaten. At the other end, Götze squandered a good look, firing the ball straight at Fabianski. In the quarter of an hour that followed, Poland had the better chances, but Hummels and Boateng were world class. Milik had another look in front of the German goal, but whiffed, while a short time later Mesut Özil couldn't get his equally open shot on target either. The introduction of Mario Gomez and André Schürrle for the final phase of the match did little to alter Germany's fortunes. Nor could Bayern's Robert Lewandowski make an impact for Poland despite playing all 90 minutes. As a result, Euro 2016 now has its first scoreless draw. "We didn't win a single one-on-one up front," a visibly disgruntled Boateng growled after the match. "We can be happy the match ended 0-0. We have to play better, or we're not going to win anything." Lewandowski was in a much better mood. "I think we had too much respect for Germany in the first half," the Polish captain said. "In the second half we pushed forward and started creating chances." Group C remains wide open, with Germany ahead of Poland on goal difference. The final matches next Tuesday (Ukraine-Poland, Northern Ireland-Germany) will determine who wins the group and who progresses. Ukraine will be going home after the group stage.

Call this one the match that refused to believe the hype. Germany and Poland cancel one another out in a less than scintillating 0-0 draw, where the two defenses came up trumps. The result was a yawner. Germany and Poland convened in Paris-St. Denis for the match everyone expected would determine the winner of Group C. The defending World Cup ... Read More »

NATO chief announces battalion deployments to Baltic states, Poland

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has announced that the military alliance will deploy battalions in the east. The move comes amid growing fear over Russian encroachment. Stoltenberg said NATO officials would formally approve the plan to send four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland during a meeting on Tuesday in Brussels. "The will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally," the secretary-general said on Monday during a press conference. Some 4,000 troops will be deployed as part of the new manuever. The move is likely to anger Moscow, which argues that NATO threatens its national security and has repeatedly criticized NATO's consideration of building up its military presence along the Russian border. Poland and the Baltic states, on the other hand, have pushed for a larger NATO presence in their countries ever since Russia annexed Crimea, in the Ukraine, in 2014. Russia, NATO at odds "Poland has stepped into NATO, but NATO has failed to step into our territory," Polish President Andrzej Duda said not long ago. The battalions will be rotational rather than permanent, a point NATO leaders have reiterated to Russia, which has pointed to a 1997 agreement not to build permanent bases in former eastern bloc countries. Stoltenberg's announcement also came as the military alliance projected a 1.5-increase in defense spending across the alliance, which translates to an increase of over $3 billion (2.66 billion euros). NATO is currently engaged in a two-week-long military drill in Poland, which comes about a month before the organization's summit in July. NATO leaders said they will hold talks with Russia prior to the meeting, though ongoing tension between the US and Russia over an American missile system being constructed in Poland and Romania has called into question the likelihood of dialogue.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has announced that the military alliance will deploy battalions in the east. The move comes amid growing fear over Russian encroachment. Stoltenberg said NATO officials would formally approve the plan to send four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland during a meeting on Tuesday in Brussels. “The will send a clear signal that NATO ... Read More »

NATO alliance starts biggest military exercise amid tensions with Russia

The Western military alliance has kicked off large-scale, two-week long exercises in Poland. 'Anakonda-16' comes in spite of Russian warnings against military expansionism in Eastern Europe. The exercises, codenamed Anakonda-16, began Tuesday amid rising tension in the region, with Moscow warning that a NATO expansion in the east would threaten its national security. The two-week-long drills involve some 31,000 troops, including 14,000 from the US, 12,000 from Poland and 1,000 from the UK, as well as dozens of fighter jets and ships, along with 3,000 vehicles. Manuevers will include a nighttime helicopter assault and a response to an attack from the east. The exercises are aimed at "checking the alliance's ability to defend its eastern flank," Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said at opening ceremonies in Warsaw the previous day. In addition to the 24 alliance states taking part in the exercise, non-NATO members including Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden and Finland are also taking part. Russia hits back The Anakonda-16 comes about a month before NATO leaders meet for a summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, where they're expected to discuss deploying batallions to Poland and the Baltic countries in response to perceived Russian aggressions. Moscow has repeatedly criticized NATO's recent actions, calling them needless provocations. "If you take a listen, you get this impression that NATO is a cornered sheep with predators all around embodied by Russia and other countries that are not under the US control," Russian Defense Minister Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Monday. In response to Russia's argument that NATO had agreed in 1997 not to create permanent bases in former eastern bloc countries, the military alliance says the new forces would be rotational rather than permanent. Ongoing standoff? NATO has said it will hold formal talks with Russia ahead of the July summit, although a recent flare-up between Washington and Moscow over a US missile system being constructed in Poland and Romania has called into question the possibility of future cooperation. Russia has said it wants to end threats posed by the system, and has also said it would deploy three divisions in its west and south to counter perceived aggression from NATO in Eastern Europe. During the opening ceremony for the military exercise on Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attempted to quell Russian fears. "In the long run, we just have to understand that Russia is our biggest neighbor," Stoltenberg said. "We have to relate to Russia and we have to work with Russia."

The Western military alliance has kicked off large-scale, two-week long exercises in Poland. ‘Anakonda-16’ comes in spite of Russian warnings against military expansionism in Eastern Europe. The exercises, codenamed Anakonda-16, began Tuesday amid rising tension in the region, with Moscow warning that a NATO expansion in the east would threaten its national security. The two-week-long drills involve some 31,000 troops, ... Read More »

Poland abandons promise to take in refugees after Brussels attacks

Poland's government has said it is not willing to take in the 7,000 refugees agreed by its liberal predecessors in 2015. The country is the first in the EU to do so, but maybe not the last. Poland had planned to admit an initial 400 refugees this year, and the rest would come in over the next three years. The first refugees were due to arrive in Poland late March or early April. "After what happened in Brussels yesterday, it's not possible right now to say that we're OK with accepting any number of migrants at all," Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told broadcaster Superstacja. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the deal in 2015, while Poland had been in favor under the previous Civic Platform (PO) government. Holding the line At a press conference in Warsaw Wednesday, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo - of the right.-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party which came to power last October - criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for having "invited migrants into Europe." "This carefree attitude led to the problems that we have today," she said. President Andrzej Duda's security advisor Pawel Soloch also warned against rising numbers of refugees. "Let's be careful that 10,000 doesn't turn into 100,000," he told TVN24 broadcaster Wednesday. Playing to the gallery The PiS government has clashed repeatedly with the EU's executive over constitutional and other issues since its October election win. It has also been highly vociferous in its antipathy to taking in refugees, with a majority of Poles against the EU's quotas, according to polls. EU leaders forced through a one-off controversial deal in September to relocate 120,000 refugees among member states. Poland finally agreed to accept more than 5,000 of the 120,000 people to be shared between the 28-member EU - in addition to an initial 2,000. The PO government had pledged to open 10 centers for refugees. Polish officials now argue the country is already taking in large numbers of people from neighboring Ukraine fleeing the armed conflict. "Our stance is very cautious, which gives rise to major criticism from other countries in what we call the old EU, who hastily agreed to this influx of migrants into Europe," Szydlo said. "We're forced above all to ensure the security of our fellow citizens," she added, also urging Europe not to accept "thousands of migrants who come here only to improve their living conditions." Among these migrants, she said, "there are also terrorists." Szydlo's spokesman, Rafal Bochenek, later told journalists that the government "can't allow for events in western Europe to happen in Poland." After the attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, Szydlo said; "I regret to have to say that the EU is not drawing lessons from what is happening." Anti-refugee sentiment growing Thousands of Poles took to the streets and social media to promote anti-refugee marches across the country organized by far-right nationalist movements such as the National Radical Camp in 2015. Duda, also of PiS, said in late 2015 that the government should take steps to protect its citizens from refugees bringing in "possible epidemics." This followed PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski's remarks that there is "cholera in the Greek islands" and "dysentery in Vienna." He accused refugees of "bringing in all kinds of parasites, which are not dangerous in their own countries, but which could prove dangerous for the local populations" in Europe. Physical abuse of Poland's very small number of refugees has also been reported. About 53 percent of Poles opposed accepting migrants, according to a January survey by the CBOS center. A lower number, 41 percent, were in favor of offering them temporary shelter and 4 percent said the country should allow migrants to settle permanently. No flag, no problem Meanwhile, Syzdlo 's press conference in Warsaw took place against a backdrop without the EU flag on display, as is usual, and only the red and white Polish one. The new government won the election after eight years in opposition and is skeptical about the EU and wants greater independence from Brussels. "We're an active EU member... but we adopted the approach that statements after government meetings will take place against a backdrop of the most beautiful ... white-and-red flags," Szydlo said.

Poland’s government has said it is not willing to take in the 7,000 refugees agreed by its liberal predecessors in 2015. The country is the first in the EU to do so, but maybe not the last. Poland had planned to admit an initial 400 refugees this year, and the rest would come in over the next three years. The ... Read More »

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