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World News

Poland's president says migrants should stay close to their countries

FILE PHOTO: Polish President Andrzej Duda delivers a speech during a commemorative ceremony to mark the 81st anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two at Westerplatte Memorial in Gdansk, Poland September 1, 2020. Michal Ryniak/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Migrants fleeing conflict should stay as close as possible to their home countries, Poland’s president said on Friday, criticising proposals for an overhaul of the European Union’s migration and asylum rules.

“For the sake of those countries from which these people are escaping war today, they need to be as close to their borders as possible in order to have the greatest possible enthusiasm and motivation to come back and rebuild them,” President Andrzej Duda told public broadcaster TVP Info.

He criticized proposals for the EU to distribute migrants among member countries, saying that Poland opposed being forced to receive migrants and migrants having no choice in their destination.

“No dictate of the European Union, I believe, should ever force us to do so. We should never agree with that,” he said.

The plan would legally oblige all member states to host their share of refugees, in exchange for funding from the EU budget. It also aims to step up returns of illegal migrants and support foreign states in stemming migration before people reach Europe.

On Thursday, after a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the plan was unacceptable to the Visegrad Four (V4) group, which also includes Slovakia.

Reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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