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German President calls on Poland to take in more refugees

August 28, 2015

Polish President Andrzej Duda has made his first visit to Berlin since taking office less than a month ago. His German counterpart, Joachim Gauck, used the opportunity to call on Poland to take in more refugees.

Berlin Bellevue Gauck und Duda
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen

German President Gauck welcomed his new Polish opposite number, Andrzej Duda, with military honors at his official residence, Schloss Bellevue, in Berlin on Friday.

Their talks were meant as something of a get-to-know-you affair for the two heads of state. It is just three weeks since the 43-year-old Duda, a former lawmaker with the center-right Law and Justice (PiS) party, was sworn into office.

However, given the growing refugee crisis that has left Germany struggling to cope with the arrival of what is predicted to be an unprecedented 800,000 migrants by the end of this year, President Gauck took the opportunity to call on Poland to do more.

"We would be pleased if Europe could accede to a common policy on refugees," Gauck said, echoing statements made by Chancellor Angela Merkel and other members of her cabinet in recent weeks.

Berlin Bellevue Gauck und Duda
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen

Duda, though, insisted that Poland was not in a position to take in any more than the 2,000 refugees arriving in the EU from places like Iraq and Syria that it has agreed to receive over the next two years.

'Thousands' of refugees from Ukraine

The Polish president explained that his country had taken in "thousands" of people fleeing the conflict in eastern Ukraine: He added that any escalation in that conflict could cause a "large number" of others to head west from Ukraine.

Both heads of state expressed shock at the news of the suffocation deaths of 71 migrants found in an abandoned truck near Vienna earlier this week.

Following his meeting with Gauck, Duda, who was elected president back in May, also held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

pfd/jm (dpa, Reuters)