WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's foreign minister accused Germany of trying to interfere in his country's internal affairs after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Warsaw needs to clarify allegations that Polish consulates in Africa and Asia sold temporary work visas to migrants for thousands of dollars each.
Poland's right-wing ruling party, Law and Justice, is facing questions about the alleged scheme ahead of an Oct. 15 national election in which it is seeking a third term in power.
Scholz, whose government is under pressure to do more to limit migration to Germany, called on neighboring Poland on Saturday to provide clarification of what was happening.
“I don’t want people to just be waved through from Poland and only for us to have a discussion about asylum policy afterward,” Scholz said in comments reported by the German news agency dpa.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau retorted late Sunday on X, formerly Twitter, that Scholz's statement “violates the principles of the sovereign equality of states."
Rau said he appealed to Scholz “to respect Poland’s sovereignty and refrain from statements that damage our mutual relations.”
Rau himself is under political pressure at home because the alleged visa scheme operated out of the Foreign Ministry. One of Rau's deputies has been fired over his alleged role in the scheme while prosecutors and anti-corruption authorities are investigating.
Rau has rejected calls for his resignation, saying he is not under investigation.
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he has advised checks of cars, vans and buses crossing into Poland from Slovakia for migrants, arguing this was a new route for unauthorized migration ultimately headed for Germany.
Speaking at a election campaign rally on Monday, Morawiecki said he has instructed the interior minister to introduce checks of vehicles that could potentially be bringing migrants into Poland.
“We don't want anyone alleging that that border is porous,” Morawiecki said.
Last week, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that Berlin was considering establishing short-term border checks with Poland and the Czech Republic to help curb the smuggling of people into Germany.
She added that the increased border checks would need to be combined with random police checks that are already being carried out. The government said Monday that she is in discussions with her Polish and Czech counterparts.
Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic belong to Europe's visa-free zone, commonly known as the Schengen Area, that makes travel within the zone mostly check-free and easy.
Asked on Monday about Rau's complaint, Scholz's spokesperson said it was “completely normal for the chancellor, in such a situation in which Germany is massively affected, to comment.”
“I can't see any interference in any election campaign,” Steffen Hebestreit told reporters in Berlin.
Poland's private television network TVN said some people in Uganda were protesting because they have paid thousands of dollars for help in obtaining Poland's work permits and visas, but now the procedure seems stalled. Poland's embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, is under investigation by Poland's anti-corruption authorities, TVN said.
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