Poland calls EU threat of sanctions over refugees ‘illegal’
Poland calls EU threat of sanctions over refugees ‘illegal’
Three diplomats said on Monday they expected eastern EU members Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to face sanctions over their refusal to participate in relocating 160,000 refugees under a 2015 plan to ease the burden on frontline states Italy and Greece.
The European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to make a decision on legal action on Tuesday, with a formal announcement on Wednesday.
But Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski responded: “We’re not at risk.
“We won’t react, we’re not going to explain to them (the Commission) that this is illegal.”
“You can’t link relocation, or forced re-settlement, to any kind of European policy,” Waszczykowski told Polish media Tuesday.
“Most of these people aren’t refugees, they’re migrants, who arrived in Europe illegally and they don’t want to be re-settled in Poland, this would have to be done by force,” Waszczykowski added.
Brussels set a June deadline for Warsaw and Budapest to start accepting mainly Syrian, Eritrean and Iraq asylum seekers. Prague has also come under pressure after effectively dropping out of the relocation plan.
Under “infringement” proceedings the European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm, sends a letter to national governments demanding legal explanations over certain issues, before possibly referring them to the European Court of Justice.
EU states can eventually face stiff financial penalties for failing to comply.
Rafal Bochenek, spokesman for Poland’s right-wing government, on Tuesday dubbed the Commission’s threats of legal action “surprising,” accusing it of “weakness” and “inability to cope” with migrant crisis.
Warsaw has offered to send humanitarian aid to refugees camps or war zones in the Middle East.
Echoing earlier fiery rhetoric by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, Bochenek said that the refugee relocation plan posed a security “threat” to EU members.
By the start of June, less than 20,000 of 160,000 refugees had been relocated under the plan, created in response to Europe’s biggest ever migration crisis.
European sources have blamed the delays on governments trying to screen jihadists in the wake of terror attacks, a lack of housing and education for asylum seekers, and logistical problems.
They said some countries were setting unacceptable conditions by refusing Muslims, black people or large families, with Eastern European states the worst for discriminating on religious or racial grounds.
6 shot on street near north Florida stadium before NFL game
- Police reported no link to the game, which went on without incident
JACKSONVILLE, Florida: Six people have been wounded in a street shooting blocks from the Florida stadium where the NFL’s Houston Texans played and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
Ron Lendvay, director of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said several shots rang out about 12:35 p.m. Sunday on a boulevard in the stadium’s general area and that five men and one woman were hit by gunfire. All were rushed to hospitals, and the sheriff’s office tweeted that three of the victims were in critical condition. The victims ranged in age from their 20s to the 70s, according to Lendvay.
The shooting broke out before the scheduled 1 p.m. start of play. Lendvay reported no link to the game, which went on without incident, and said investigators were investigating whether it was gang-related.
The Texans won their fourth consecutive game Sunday, defeating the Jaguars 20-7 to take a one-game lead in the AFC South at the stadium, TIAA Bank Field.
Local media reports cited authorities as saying the shooting had had no impact on game day activities though some fans headed to the game reported hearing the gunfire.
Lendvay told reporters that a shooter fired from the passenger side of a gray, four-door sedan driven by a companion and that the victims were hit outside on the sidewalk near a laundromat. He said the car immediately drove off and that detectives had been checking surveillance video in hopes of identifying the vehicle and those involved.
“There were at least two people in the car,” Lendvay said. He added that investigators didn’t know if any others were in the car and he didn’t rule out the possibility of other shooters elsewhere.
“This may be gang-related based on information obtained in the early stages of the investigation,” he told reporters Sunday, declining to elaborate.
Some fans told local broadcast outlet New4Jax that they heard shots as they headed to the stadium.
“We had just parked our cars,” Vanessa Holmes told the new outlet, adding she and some family members were walking when it happened. “We heard the shots. We didn’t know if we should fall to the ground. We didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Others told the broadcast outlet that they saw people running out of the coin laundry business when the shots were fired.
Some said it was a series of shots.
“We were over there talking and suddenly, it was like ten gunshots. We ran and went for cover and then I saw the police, and people were crowding down there,” a woman identified as Yvonne Lee told News4Jax.
An update on the conditions of the wounded wasn’t immediately available late Sunday and they were not identified by name.
“A couple of them were in very serious condition on their arrival at the hospital,” Lendvay said. He added that five of the wounded were rushed by paramedics for emergency care and the sixth by private vehicle.
He said authorities have been unable to immediately determine whether there was any relationship among the wounded, noting none could be immediately interviewed though authorities hoped to do so later.
“It’s hard to say if they are all associated or not,” he added.
Lendvay spoke near the scene Sunday afternoon even as the game was in progress, saying investigators had cordoned off the area but fans who had cars parked in the area could expect an escort to their vehicles so they could leave unhindered after play was over.
Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who represents the district where the shooting occurred, told local media he was aware of crime problems in the neighborhood and urged a greater law enforcement presence there.
“In talking to the sheriff’s department; they are going to beef up patrols ...We have a crime issue,” Gaffney said. “Every other week and every other month out there, it’s too much.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott also said in a statement that he had reached out to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, offering any state resources that the city may need.