Poland to check vehicles crossing Slovak border amid migrant surge

FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivers remarks with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris before their meeting in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus in Washington, D.C., U.S. April 11, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will introduce checks on vehicles crossing the border from Slovakia, the prime minister said on Monday, in measures to stem the flow of immigrants.

The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has made migration a central issue in its campaign to win a third term in office in an Oct. 15 election, and it has included questions on the topic in a referendum which will run alongside the vote.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has been struggling with a surge in illegal migrants. The number of illegal migrants detained in Slovakia has increased nine-fold from a year ago to more than 27,000 so far this year, according to the country's interior ministry.

"I instructed the interior minister to introduce controls there ... on minibuses, vans, cars, buses where there is a suspicion that there are illegal immigrants there," Mateusz Morawiecki told an election rally.

A spokesperson for the Slovak foreign ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Morawiecki was speaking shortly after government spokesperson Piotr Muller said Warsaw was considering tightening controls on the border but that no decision had been taken as it wanted to consult with its partners.

"We do not want to surprise them with this decision, but we do not make this decision dependent on the consent of another country," Muller said.

Morawiecki also hit back at German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who on Saturday called on the Polish government to clarify allegations about a cash-for-visas scheme for migrants that has roiled Polish politics.

Morawiecki said that Scholz's words could be a preparation for closing the border with Poland.

"You'd be better informing yourself about the actual situation and not interfering in Polish affairs," he said, adressing Scholz.

Muller had said that the government does not rule out also strengthening controls on the border with Germany.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Koper; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Hugh Lawson and Alison Williams)

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