Exclusive Exclusive: Polish Finance Minister Blames Germany for Refugee Crisis

Poland’s Finance Minister Pawel Szalamacha blamed the German government for the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and in that context, rejected calls for more solidarity within the European Union. While there was a need for mutual support within the E.U., “I don’t think you can call for solidarity when the problem is at least partially caused by the E.U. member states,” he said in an interview with Handelsblatt. One of the causes of the crisis is that opinions and statements were made in Germany “which could be interpreted as an invitation addressed to migrants,” Mr. Szalamacha said. This impression could have been compounded by public discussion of the shortage of skilled labor in Germany. Business and politicians had decided to counter this shortage by bringing laborers to Germany, he said. He does not expect there will be a European solution to the refugee crisis, which saw Germany alone take in more than 1.1 million refugees last year. “No progress has been made at the external borders [of the E.U.]. The hotspots aren’t working,” Mr. Szalamacha said. At the same time, he promised to contribute both people and funding to help secure the 28-nation bloc’s external borders, and to support Turkey, a major transit country for refugees coming from the Middle East. “We decided to contribute, just like other E.U. countries, to the fund supporting Turkey. We will pay our share. That’s a firm commitment,” he said about a €3-billion fund intended for Turkey. Mr. Szalamacha said he was surprised by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s recent proposal to fund the refugee crisis through an additional tax on gasoline, but did not immediately oppose the idea. “That was the first public mention of the idea, we were a bit astonished, we need to think it over,” he said.   Read the full interview in Friday’s Handelsblatt Global Edition at 12:00 CET. Picture Source: Marc-Steffen Unger for Handelsblatt