November 20, 2018 / 2:31 PM / 20 days ago

Poland to snub U.N. migration pact, Slovakia has reservations

WARSAW/BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Poland’s government said on Tuesday it would join a growing list of mainly ex-Communist European countries planning to snub a U.N. pact on regulating migration, as Slovakia’s leader said he also had reservations.

Approved in July by all 193 U.N. member nations except the United States, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration addresses issues such as how to protect people who migrate, integrate them into new countries or safety return them home.

Drafted following the biggest influx of migrants into Europe since World War Two, most fleeing war or poverty in the Middle East and Africa, the non-binding pact is due to be adopted next month by heads of government at a meeting in Morocco.

Poland said it would not be endorsing the document.

“(It) doesn’t meet Polish demands regarding strong guarantees for countries to have the right to independently decide (who) they choose to accept,” the government in Warsaw said in a statement.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has maintained strong anti-migrant rhetoric since it took office in 2015, and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki indicated earlier this month he was likely to reject the pact.

An estimated one million Ukrainian migrants live and work in Poland.

Hungary, Czech Republic and Bulgaria have already rejected the pact, and Austria has said it does not plan to adopt it either.

In Bratislava, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said he was concerned his country might be required to take in more migrants than it wanted to.

“Our red lines are obligations that would limit our sovereignty to decide about accepting migrants,” he told reporters after a government meeting.

His foreign minister, who oversaw the drafting of the pact last year while serving as President of the U.N. General Assembly, threatened to quit the government if Slovakia rejected it.

Miroslav Lajcak said the issue was “being hijacked by populists, xenophobes and nationalists,” and if Pellegrini’s leftist ruling Smer party did not trust him, “I can’t be the minister of foreign affairs.”

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Tatiana Jancarikova in Bratislava; Editing by John Stonestreet

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