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Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities In 2015-16 years. In Poland, one of the highest levels of migrantophobia in Europe was recorded.

According to a public opinion poll, conducted by a Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS), that was published on February 3, 33% of Poles have negative attitude towards Ukrainians, 34% - to Jews, 35% - to Turks, 39% - to Russians, 41% - to Romanians and 52% - to Gypsies (Roma). Polish sociologist, Ian Polesuk from Bialystok University, noted in late February, that recently radicalisation is observed amongst Polish youth. Sociologist Dr. Lukas Yursichin, one of the founders of Social Movement Analysis Society, stated that public actions of ultra-right wing activists are an “alarming signal, indicating radicalisation and isolation in the society, and maybe even an omen of serious acts of violence in our cities.” He noted, that currently in Polish society, an “open wave of anti-Semitism” is observed.

According to a survey conducted by CBOS in January 2015, 58% of respondents said they were negative towards the Roma, 50% - towards Russians, 32% - Ukrainians, 22%, - Lithuanians, 29% - Belarusians, 32% - towards Jews. According to a survey conducted by the CBOS in March 2016, 67% of the Poles expressed their dislike for the Roma and Arabs, 50% for the Russians, 37% for the Jews, 34% for the Ukrainians, 32% for the Belarusians, 27% for the Lithuanians, 26% for the Germans, 13% - to the Czechs and Slovaks.

Results of the polls show a significant increase in anti- Roma and anti-Russian sentiments, maintaining a high level of anti-Semitism and a negative attitude of a significant part of the Poles to their eastern neighbours. The data of general surveys is confirmed by more narrowly focused surveys, dedicated to the attitude towards one or another specific people.

Polish sociologist Jan Poleshchuk from the University of Białystok noted in 2013, that radicalisation of a part of Polish youth has become more noticeable. Sociologist Dr. Lukasz Jursicin, one of the founders of the Society for the Analysis of Social Movements, said that the public actions of the ultra-right are “an alarming signal that indicates radicalization and isolation in society, and maybe even an omen of the most serious acts of violence in our cities.” He noted that at the moment there is an “open wave of anti-Semitism in Polish society.”

Results of a survey of Warsaw students were published on April 19, 2014. The survey indicated a high level of anti-Semitism in Warsaw (and probably in all of Poland). 44% of students responded that they would not like to have Jewish neighbours. The same amount would not like to have Jewish relatives. 40% would not like to study in the same school with Jews. 61% responded that they would stop talking to their friend, if he went back or converted to Judaism. In addition, when answering questions about the Holocaust period, 55% considered adequate the extremely limited assistant of Poles towards their Jewish compatriots during Holocaust, and 11% even considered it excessive . При At the same time, one in four of students called Nazi concentration camps a “Hitler’s successful project.

Significant migrantophobia is also observed. A survey conducted in late 2013 showed that 2/3 of Poles believe that Poland should not encourage immigration from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe .

In September 2013 during the conflict between local people and a band of Roma in Andrychow more than 2,000 Internet users signed for to the requirement of “clear the city of Roma” .

:In 2015, there was an increase in anti-Muslim sentiments. If in 2014, 56% of respondents demonstrated Islamophobia, and in 2015 they were already at 66%. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Centre in the spring of 2016, 88% of Poles felt that a significant number of Muslims in their countries supported ISIS.

Homophobia is also strong in Poland, which is not surprising because of the strict positions of the Catholic Church. According to polls conducted in August 2015, 71% do not accept civil same-sex partnerships in the form of actual cohabitation, 63% do not accept them as legally registered partnerships. Xenophobia is converted into votes. Following the results of the elections to the European Parliament on May 25, 2014, the party “Congress of New Right” received 7% of votes. In 2015, the party “Right and Justice” (37% of the vote) returned to power, and the extreme right-wing “Kukiz15” movement created by musician Pavel Kukiz in alliance with the “National Movement” (8.81% of the vote) was elected to parliament.

In general, we can state that the main problem concerning Poles' attitude toward minorities remains the issue of refugees from Asian and African countries. It should be noted, however, that before the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015, Poles were sympathetic to the idea of helping refugees, especially if it was temporary aid. Moreover, before 2015, the issue of immigration to Poland was not discussed at all. Thus, in May 2015, the government announced that Poland would help 60 Christian families from Syria. In September 2015, during the 25th Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdrój, Ms. Ewa Kopacz, then Polish prime minister, stated that Poland could not afford economic migrants. Nevertheless, she stressed that accepting refugees was our responsibility and a test of decency. During a meeting with a migrant NGO in September 2015, Ms. Ewa Kopacz said that Poland could not afford economic migrants: "Thank you for not talking about a 'quota' or a 'threat' for migrants. For you, they are just people who need help." Thus, the rhetoric of the government of Eva Kopacz was moderate and encouraging. Despite the fact that various obvious questions about public safety have emerged, the government has tried to reassure public opinion.

In spite of the fact that various obvious questions about public safety have emerged.

However, the Islamist attack in Paris and the public reaction to it showed that the issue of third-world migrants can be used as an effective campaign tool. The change in rhetoric regarding refugees can be seen during the political campaign in the fall of 2015. Although PiS focused on social and ideological issues, it also used the issue of refugees in its campaign for the Polish Sejm. The party's rhetoric was largely based on people's fears and prejudices.

Before the terrorist attack, however, in September 2015, Ms. Beata Szydło, then the PPP's prime ministerial candidate, said that the decision to agree to house migrants in Poland was a scandal; it was made against security concerns and public opinion. She also warned that it was not only about 7,000 people, but also about many others, because they would be able to bring their families to Poland. Overall, it must be stated that the anti-immigrant campaign has already set the stage.

In 2015, the theme of migrant-phobia helped PiS win the election and has since become one of its main tools in elections. In September 2018, for example, during the EU summit of heads of state and government in Salzburg, new Polish Prime Minister M. Morawiecki supported the PiS government's view that Poland would continue to refuse to accept migrants as part of the resettlement mechanism. The government led by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) has remained consistent and has not changed its view on the resettlement and settlement of people in need of international protection in Poland. Moreover, from the very beginning, the government has been of the opinion that people in need should be assisted at the site of the conflict or in neighboring states. The inconsistency in migration policy was primarily due to the fact that, contrary to opinions that Poland is closed to foreigners, the number of immigrants arriving in Poland has actually increased.

The impact of such rhetoric on public opinion toward migrants is clear; the level of anti-immigrant sentiment clearly increased in 2015-18. Potential reasons for this negative attitude include: the refugee crisis and the increase in terrorist attacks in Europe; the Polish government's extremely negative rhetoric toward migrants from the Middle East and Africa; and anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic propaganda in right-wing media and the civil service that portrays Muslims as terrorists and criminals.

In May 2016, in response to a refugee resettlement mechanism challenged by the governments of several countries, including Poland, the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, passed a resolution "On Protecting the Sovereignty of the Republic of Poland and the Rights of its Citizens," which stated, in part, that "There are attempts in European Union institutions [...] to impose solutions on Poland regarding immigrants arriving in Europe. The announced solutions to this problem have no basis in European law, they violate our country's sovereignty, European values and the principle of subsidiarity of the European Union. They also pose a threat to the social order in Poland, to the security of its citizens, as well as to its civilizational heritage and national identity. The Sejm of the Republic of Poland calls on the government to oppose any action against state sovereignty and declares that it is the responsibility of the government to protect national interests and constitutional order in the Republic of Poland. "

According to the European Commission, not a single person has been resettled in Poland since the program began until December 2016. In June 2017, the European Commission issued a statement, "In total, more than 20,000 people have been resettled so far. While most member states are currently making fair and proportional contributions to the plan, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland are not committing to resettle refugees from Greece and Italy, in violation of their legal obligations." Similarly, in 2018, "Hungary and Poland remain the only member states that have not transferred a single person, and Poland has made no commitment since December 16, 2015."

In 2020, however, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in consolidated cases C-715/17, C-718/17 and C-719/17 against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic that by refusing to comply with the international protection applicants' temporary relocation mechanism, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic had not fulfilled their obligations under EU law. Those States could not, in their refusal to comply with that mechanism, rely either on their obligations regarding the maintenance of law and order and internal security or on the malfunctioning of the relocation mechanism that they claim. The Court points out that, in particular, Poland is not entitled to evade the application of the relocation decision under Article 72 TFEU, according to which the provisions of the Treaty relating to the area of freedom, security and justice, to which the asylum policy in particular refers, "must not prejudice the exercise of the responsibilities incumbent on Member States concerning the maintenance of law and order and internal security" because that provision is a departure from the general rules of European Union law and must only be interpreted in such a way as to constitute a violation of Article 72. Consequently, the provision of the Article does not empower Member States to derogate from the provisions of European Union law simply by invoking interests relating to the maintenance of law and order and internal security, but requires them to demonstrate that the derogation provided for in that provision is necessary to comply with their obligations in that respect.

As a result, most Poles dispute the mechanism for resettling refugees from the Middle East and Africa:

  • In October 2017, 75% of respondents were against accepting refugees; 20% accepted it;
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  • In June 2018, 72% of respondents were against accepting refugees; 22% accepted it.

Attitudes toward refugees from Asia very soon extrapolated to those toward Muslims. The percentage declaring warm feelings toward Muslims decreased by 6 percentage points in 2020 compared to 2015 (from 23% to 17%), while hostile or indifferent attitudes increased by 5 points (from 33% to 38%). It should be emphasized that the vast majority of Poles have never had direct contact with Muslims. Only 14% of CBOS respondents claim personal acquaintance with a person of that religion.

At the same time, Poles' attitudes toward economic migrants have improved significantly since the 1990s. While in 1992 the number of those who were unequivocally positive about this category of immigrants was only 9%, in 2019 it rose to 62%. These figures clearly indicate that the majority of Poles accept the presence of foreigners in the labor market and consider it beneficial for themselves as well as for the country's economy, for employees in general and for employers.

As far as Poles' attitudes toward members of particular ethnic groups are concerned, the following dynamics are present:

  • In 2018 (compared to 2017), attitudes toward almost all ethnic groups worsened. Germans, Belarusians and the French were treated best then, the attitude to Arabs, Greeks and Englishmen deteriorated. It is worth noting that of those who took part in the survey by the CBOS polling agency in March 2018, 23% of respondents did not feel friendly toward any nation; 25% felt friendly toward no more than 3 nations; 25% felt friendly toward 4-11 nations; 27% of respondents felt friendly toward at least half of the nations taken into account in the survey.
  • According to an opinion poll conducted by CBOS in February 2019, Poles felt the best about Czechs, Italians and Slovaks. At the same time, Arabs, Roma and Romanians were less likeable ethnicities and, at the same time, respondents were more likely to declare negative attitudes toward them.
  • A public opinion poll in March 2020 showed that Czechs, Slovaks and Italians also held the priority of sympathy. Meanwhile, attitudes toward Arabs, Roma, Turks and Russians were the most negative.

The CBOS noted that attitudes toward other nations tend to be driven by a combination of factors such as: national stereotypes, historical reasons, respondents' own experiences, and current political and social events. Interestingly, their analysis shows that Poles like nations with higher standards of living. The CBOS goes on to note that education, place of residence, political views, age, or religious practices are factors that influence people's attitudes toward other nations.

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