German Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, is expected to announce temporary border controls at Germany’s borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. This is in an effort to reduce the number of asylum seekers entering the country. According to a German official, the announcement will be made on Wednesday.
The official stated that Faeser intends to conduct spot inspections at border crossings that are often utilized by human traffickers. These temporary measures will be implemented at specific border crossings in the coming days.
German politicians are facing mounting pressure to take action against the rising influx of refugees, with many entering the country through Poland and the Czech Republic. In the first eight months of 2023, Germany received a staggering 204,000 asylum requests, a 77 percent increase from the previous year.
German politicians are putting in extra effort to appear tougher on immigration before the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse on October 8th.
During a recent political event in Bavaria, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz connected the border crisis to a reported scandal involving visa bribery within Poland’s anti-immigrant government.
Scholz addressed a crowd in Nürnberg, expressing his concern about Poland’s handling of asylum seekers. He urged the Polish government to address recent allegations that visas were given out in exchange for bribes, and not just allow people to enter and then discuss their asylum policy later.
The suggestion by German Chancellor Scholz that the visa corruption scandal is linked to the border crisis was met with strong disapproval from members of Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party. Poland’s foreign minister, Zbigniew Rau, urged the chancellor to avoid making statements that could harm the relationship between the two countries.
The topic of border regulations is expected to cause tension in Poland as they prepare for their parliamentary election on October 15. Leading up to the election, members of the PiS party have been attempting to incite anti-German sentiment among Polish voters and pushing for reparations from Germany for their actions during World War II.
The city of Warsaw is considering the possibility of taking further action by potentially closing the border with Germany in order to discourage migrants from entering Poland from Germany.
According to Rafał Bochenek, a representative of the PiS party, Poland is considering restrictions on its western border due to the large number of undocumented immigrants entering Germany in recent years.
He informed the Radio Plus network that the government is examining the problem closely.
The implementation of spot checks has the potential to exacerbate tensions between the countries, making it a crucial political balancing act. The ruling party in Poland may also face a decline in support from those who hold their confrontational stance towards Berlin responsible for the inconvenience of restricted border crossings.
On Monday, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan announced that Czech police will work together with German police for border checks. The German official stated that Faeser also attempted to establish a similar collaboration with Poland, but has not been successful in reaching an agreement.
Scholz and his colleague in the interior ministry, both belonging to the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), may be taking a stricter approach towards migration due to the party’s decreasing popularity in polls.
Faeser is the SPD’s the lead candidate in Hesse and is running to be that state’s premier. But the SPD has fallen to only 19 percent in that state while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is at 16 percent, according to an average of state polls compiled by POLITICO’s Poll of Polls.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is facing difficulties at a national level, currently polling at 17 percent. This puts them behind the Alternative for Germany (AfD), who is polling at 21 percent.
The official stated that Germany is able to bypass the rule of giving one-month notice to the Commission before implementing border controls within the EU’s Schengen passport-free travel area by using spot checks instead of more thorough border controls.
Reporting was provided by Jan Cienski.