Polish president opts for extension of state of emergency

2021-09-28 20:32 update: 2021-09-29, 20:49
Andrzej Duda Fot. PAP/Andrzej Lange
Andrzej Duda Fot. PAP/Andrzej Lange
Polish President Andrzej Duda has responded favourably to the government's request to prolong a state of emergency at the Polish-Belarusian border.

Poland and the Baltic countries have accused the Belarusian government of pushing migrants, most of them from the Middle East, across their borders in an effort to destabilise both its neighbours and the EU.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Polish government decided to ask the president to prolong the state of emergency, introduced for 30 days on September 2, for an additional 60-day period.

On Tuesday afternoon, the president met with the ministers of interior and defence and the head of border guard to hear a situation report.

"It seems at the moment that declaring a state of emergency for an additional 60 days will be justified," Duda said after the meeting.

However, the president added that the state of emergency can be shortened if the situation permits.

"But (border) officers and armed forces need it to carry out their duties effectively," he said.

"Unfortunately, pressure on the border is increasing," the president went on to say, mentioning 354 attempts to cross the Polish border from Belarus between midnight and 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

"It's been a record number so far," Duda said.

The president made it clear that he will rubber stamp the government's motion and then ask the lower house of parliament to approve the extension.

On Monday, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski and Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak reported on the situation on Poland's eastern border at a press conference.

They put the number of attempts to illegally cross the Polish border from Belarus at 9,400 since August, 8, 200 of which had been foiled.

According to Kaminski and Stanislaw Zaryn, the spokesman for Poland's special services coordinator, some migrants had a terrorist or paramilitary background, including ties with the so-called Islamic State, and some of them had Russian connections.

Blaszczak cited numerous cases of provocation from Belarusian forces, including shots being fired into the air, aiming guns at Polish soldiers, throwing fire crackers or leaving mysterious packages close to the border and then running away from them quickly to scare off Polish soldiers. (PAP)