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Poland accuses Germany of meddling over visa allegations

September 25, 2023

Olaf Scholz had said the Polish government should clarify opposition allegations its consulates sold visas to migrants. Warsaw has claimed Scholz's comments amount to election interference.

People cross a bridge over the Oder River between Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany
The alleged visa scandal has led Germany to consider checks at its open border with PolandImage: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau accused Germany of seeking to interfere in his country's internal affairs after comments from Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The German leader said Warsaw had questions to answer over allegations that Polish consulates in Africa and Asia sold fast-tracked temporary work visas for thousands of dollars each to migrants.

What the Polish foreign minister said

With migration a central campaign theme ahead of Poland's closely contested mid-October elections, Rau accused Scholz of overstepping a boundary with his clarification request.

"The competence of the German Chancellor clearly does not concern the ongoing proceedings in Poland," the foreign minister wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Statements in this regard indicate an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Polish State and the ongoing electoral campaign in Poland," he said. 

Rau's nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) is campaigning on an anti-immigration platform, and has previously sought to use anti-German sentiment to its electoral advantage.

What are the visa allegations?

Scholz had called for clarification to the accusation that as many as 350,000 migrants bought EU Schengen visas from Polish consulates.

"I don't want people to just be waved through from Poland and only for us to have a discussion about asylum policy afterward," the German news agency DPA reported him as saying.

Germany sees rising migration at Polish border

The consulates allegedly processed the visas at an accelerated pace and without proper checks after applicants paid intermediaries. Such Schengen visas often allow holders to travel to other parts of the EU, such as Germany.

Germany's government is under increasing pressure to limit migration across its eastern borders. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser last week said that Germany might introduce short-term border checks with Poland and the Czech Republic to reduce the number of migrants entering.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has also demanded clarification over the alleged visa scheme.

In response, Poland's nationalist government said the affair was an exaggeration that opponents had timed to discredit it ahead of the election.

rc/fb (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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