Unfortunately, there is currently no obvious way out of this crisis. Neither present Polish government nor any which could be formed by the parliamentary opposition (with fatal results for Poland…) – will never sit down to serious talks with President Lukashenka.
First – we should explain one thing. There is no big difference between welcoming so-called refugees in Poland and in the Western countries. For last several years I have worked with Polish immigrants in Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway etc. We are accepted here not because of humanitarian reasons – but due to the needs of the local labour market. Similarly, the Polish labour market does not need such external employees, hence, among Poles, the attitude towards newcomers is often hostile, reluctant, or at best indifferent.
Poles welcome immigrants all the time
That is not, that any Pole feels sorry about children freezing on the border. But we still have our own very serious problems, mainly socio-economic, which can only get worse after the appearance of more strangers. Polish children are also often chilly and hungry – and there are more and more of them. Meanwhile, Polish immigration to the West – allows local economies to fill the growing demographic gap and ensure the continuity of pensions payments. That is all the difference. Even more significant while Poland still accepts immigrants, not three thousand, but three million. That is how many Gastarbeiters from Ukraine have come to replace Poles migrating to the West.
Of course, there are attempts to use the border situation in Poland for propaganda games between the government and the parliamentary opposition, hence attempts to cause hysteria rather than to organize real humanitarian aid for the newcomers. However, there is more to party declarations than real social emotions. And there was the only one solution which should be provided earlier, due to the evidently transit nature of this immigration wave. It should be solved as part of Polish negotiations with Belarus, where are they coming from and Germany, where are they going. Again, there were internal-political considerations to prevail, as well as Anglo-American incentives, focused on an obstruction of the new German government situation and further deteriorating not only Polish-Belarusian, but also Polish-German relations.
There is no doubt, however, that Poland should earn a lot on this situation. Not only from political, but also financial point of view. Whereas so far, we only bear the costs of prolonged scuffles and increasingly clear international image losses, ruthlessly exploited by Minsk. Why is it hard to be surprised, remembering that it was Poland that was the source of money, training and help for the unsuccessful attempt at last year’s political coup in Belarus. And President Lukashenko always pays off his debts. And even the easier when Polish side gives him propaganda gifts, as in the case of the unfortunate defector who, under normal circumstances, should never have been on the first line, with a weapon in hand.
This border cannot be blocked indefinitely
Unfortunately, there is currently no obvious way out of this crisis. Neither present Polish government nor any which could be formed by the parliamentary opposition (with fatal results for Poland…) – will never sit down to serious talks with President Lukashenka. In spring, however, there may be a further escalation, when, apart from direct human transfers between Minsk and Berlin – not thousands, but tens of thousands of candidates for immigrants will return to the Polish-Belarusian border. And they will be accompanied by more streams coming from Ukraine. And without a systemic and political solution – there will be no possibility of further violence and flexing muscles by the Polish government with the participation of the army. Because Poland will not afford of that.
So when asked what Poland wants to win – the answer is: Poles do not want to win anything. And that is exactly what we will get.