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For the past two days, the situation at the border between Poland and Belarus has been escalating. Prime Minister Morawiecki assembled the national crisis management team, the President’s National Security Bureau convened already twice, and the Speaker of the Parliament called a special session on Tuesday to inform MPs about the state of affairs on Poland’s eastern border. On the international level, Mateusz Morawiecki spoke with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, while Andrzej Duda had a phone call with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Georgia.
- A safe Poland is in our national and mutual interest, regardless of our political affiliations. Let us be together in these difficult moments - the Speaker of the Parliament Elżbieta Witek urged in her televised address to the nation.
Yet, despite its demonstrative calls for unity, the Polish government still chooses to completely ignore the opposition. - Why should we involve them in our actions when Poles are just now finding out that we were right about disagreeing with the opposition on letting migrants into our country - we hear from a member of the ruling party. Politicians we talk to recall statements by Władysław Frasyniuk, a prominent communist-era dissident and vocal critic of the ruling camp, who said of the border guards: "This is not how soldiers act. They’re simply trash. This is not human behavior – we should be clear about it. This is anti-Polish behavior". He referred to the group of refugees camping in Usnarz whose desperate pleas for asylum were ignored by the Polish authorities.
- The opposition was against building a border fence, they did not support introducing the state of emergency- our government source continues. When we point out that the border crisis escalated despite the state of emergency, he dismisses the argument: - But it made the work of our border authorities much easier. He also notes that the #muremzamundurem hashtag expressing support for border guards and the soldiers is currently one of the most popular hashtags on social media.
The Prime Minister traveled to the border on Tuesday. "Some must watch so that others can sleep", he wrote on Facebook. In the photos posted by the PM, he and the Minister of Defense Mariusz Błaszczak are shown talking to officers at the border.
- Why is it the Minister of Defense who goes to the border with the Prime Minister and not the head of the Ministry of the Interior Mariusz Kamiński? Is it meant to deliberately emphasize the military character of the actions at the border and to intensify the feeling of danger? - We asked our sources inside the government.
- It is supposed to evoke a rather a simple association that the borders are guarded by soldiers – we heard back.
"Unity requires dialogue, and it simply does not exist"
Tuesday's Parliamentary session also began with expressions of gratitude to the border protection services and soldiers. All MPs stood up to applaud them. The Prime Minister delivered a message of unity. This time, no one spoke about betrayal or a "total opposition". Instead, there were calls for cross-party unity: "We must stand united and look at what is happening at our border with solidarity, having in mind, first and foremost, the fate of Poland, the fate of the Republic". The Prime Minister repeated what we were unofficially told by our sources inside the ruling camp. – Today, you can see that we were right all along - these actions are necessary, and we will continue to strengthen our manpower so that the border is properly protected" - he said in the Parliament.
Mariusz Kamiński, the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, lectured the opposition on "keeping a minimum of decency and not accepting brutal attacks on Polish border officers and soldiers", saying that if the opposition does not support it, it should at least not interfere. He also encouraged them to not look at the border crisis through the lens of approval ratings.
–Unity requires dialogue, and this dialogue simply does not exist - responded Civic Coalition MP and former head of the Ministry of Defense Tomasz Siemoniak. - The President still did not convene the National Security Council. Minister Kamiński talks about something that happened already in July and September. Why wasn’t the opposition informed about it earlier?- he enumerated.
For the past three months, as the crisis on the Poland-Belarus border unfolded, there has been a widespread belief among members of the government that it will boost the ruling camp’s approval ratings. Recently, one of Jarosław Kaczyński's advisers, with whom we spoke off the record about PiS’ falling poll numbers, predicted a rebound in the context of Lukashenko's actions.
- It is a wave we can sail to victory; in the face of danger, people always rally around the flag- he assessed.
Ruling camp politicians believe that the situation will remain serious for the next few days. In public, and behind the scenes, they claim that they do not want shots to be fired at the border. - But no one can predict how it will end, migrants will certainly still try to storm our border, but that is why there are preventive forces who secure it - says one of our sources.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.
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