Visa affair: Poland’s foreign minister does not resign
The national-conservative government in Warsaw is stirring up sentiment against migrants. But now investigations into the sale of work visas are putting the ruling PiS under pressure – right in the middle of the election campaign.
Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau takes a look Investigations against his authority for corruption in the issuance of work visas in Asia and Africa do not provide grounds for his resignation. “I don’t feel complicit, I’m not thinking of resigning and there is no visa issue,” Rau said in New York, according to the PAP news agency. The opposition speaks of hundreds of thousands of questionable visas, the government of around 200.
The scandal surrounding the issuing of visas is putting the national conservative ruling party PiS under heavy pressure a month before the parliamentary elections on October 15th. The question is whether work visas were issued en masse for citizens of African and Asian countries and whether this was quicker if applicants paid large sums through intermediaries.
Investigations against seven people
On Thursday, the Polish Attorney General’s Office announced that it was investigating seven people on suspicion that they had expedited the issuance of work visas in return for payment. Three people were arrested. The public prosecutor’s office spoke of irregularities in the issuance of “several hundred work visas” in several Arab countries as well as in India, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Foreign Minister Rau now said that the public prosecutor’s investigation involves 200 visas.
Reports from the Polish media and information from the opposition, on the other hand, indicate a much larger scale. Opposition leader Donald Tusk from the liberal-conservative Citizens Platform (PO) cited the number of 250,000 work visas that were issued in Africa and Asia within 30 months. Two parliamentarians from his party, who took a look at Foreign Ministry documents as part of a possible parliamentary inspection in Poland, speak of 350,000 visas.
Deputy Foreign Minister Wawrzyk dismissed
There were already personnel consequences behind the scenes at the end of August: the deputy foreign minister, Piotr Wawrzyk, who was responsible for consular affairs, was dismissed and disappeared from the PiS electoral list. At the same time, his department was raided by the anti-corruption agency CBA. On Friday, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Wawrzyk was hospitalized after attempting suicide. According to Polish media reports, the politician is said to have been the mastermind behind the system of corrupt visa allocation.
The PiS government is creating anti-migrant sentiment during the election campaign. She also opposes the EU asylum compromise, which provides for the mandatory admission of refugees.