Polish MPs clash over planned border wall

During a parliamentary debate on Wednesday about the bill Deputy Interior Maciej Wąsik said that the temporary protective measures now in place "would be absolutely sufficient if we did not have a foe on the other side who supports the migration efforts." Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

A government bill on building a wall along the Polish-Belarusian border to stop migrants has come under fire from opposition politicians.

On Tuesday, the government fast-tracked the draft law, put forward by the interior ministry, on building a high and solid barrier on the border with Belarus in a bid to protect Poland’s and the EU's external frontier.

Poland has been struggling to stem the flow of Middle Eastern and African migrants crossing into Poland from Belarus. The government says they have been invited to Belarus by Alexander Lukashenko, the country's president, allegedly under the promise they will be able to live in the EU.

The wall, which the government estimates will cost over PLN 1.6 billion (EUR 350 million), will be built to stop the migrants.

During a parliamentary debate on Wednesday about the bill Deputy Interior Maciej Wąsik said that the temporary protective measures now in place "would be absolutely sufficient if we did not have a foe on the other side who supports the migration efforts."

He added that Poland wants to have the wall built "as soon as possible”.

"The construction will start once the regulations on the matter have come into effect," he said.

In August, Poland began building a barbed wire fence along its border with Belarus but the wall, which would come with a system of motion sensors and monitoring system, is to further enhance border security, Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said on Tuesday.

But Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, an MP from Civic Platform, Poland’s main opposition party, questioned the merits of building a wall saying: "There is no doubt this PLN 1,600 million will be spent, but it will not have any spectacular effects."

She added that the experience from other countries shows that this kind of protection is "not perfect."

An MP from the Left party, Andrzej Rozenek, asked Wąsik how the wall’s costs had been calculated, and how the contractor would be selected.

In reply Wąsik told MPs that the estimates envisage the maximum level of expenses and the contractor will be selected "in a transparent manner" albeit not through public procurement due to the short deadline.

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have accused the Belarusian government of pushing migrants across the border in an effort to destabilise the EU in retaliation for sanctions that Brussels has imposed on Minsk.

Areas in Poland close to the border with Belarus have been under a state of emergency since September 2. The press is barred from visiting the area covered by the state of emergency.