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Abstract

The article deals with the concept of solidarity in the context of the current refugee crisis. Specifically, employing the Discourse-Historical Approach, it explores how solidarity is constructed in the discourse of the EU and in two member states, in Poland and in the Czech Republic which have been very critical of the EUropean approach to refugees from the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015. As the findings suggest, relocations seem to be the only contested aspect of a more complex solution. On all other initiatives, there is an agreement between the EU and Poland and the Czech Republic even though the discourse might seem escalated at fi rst sight. Moreover, drawing on the theoretical overview, the balancing of solidarity as a value with national interests and focus on security seems to be in line with the theoretical conceptualisation of international solidarity.
43
DOI: 10.33067/SE.1.2019.03
Markéta Votoupalová*40
Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish
Approach to Refugees in the EU Context
Abstract
The article deals with the concept of solidarity in the context of the cur-
rent refugee crisis. Speci cally, employing the Discourse-Historical Ap-
proach, it explores how solidarity is constructed in the discourse of the EU
and in two member states, in Poland and in the Czech Republic which have
been very critical of the EUropean approach to refugees from the beginning
of the refugee crisis in 2015. As the ndings suggest, relocations seem to
be the only contested aspect of a more complex solution. On all other ini-
tiatives, there is an agreement between the EU and Poland and the Czech
Republic even though the discourse might seem escalated at rst sight.
Moreover, drawing on the theoretical overview, the balancing of solidarity
as a value with national interests and focus on security seems to be in line
with the theoretical conceptualisation of international solidarity.
Key words: Refugee Crisis, EU, Solidarity, Refugee Quota System, Relo-
cations, Discourse-Historical Approach
Introduction
Since the EU proposed the refugee quota system in 2015 to help ease the
countries at the external EU border of the burden caused by the recent in-
crease in incoming people, Poland and the Czech Republic have been among
the most vocal opponents of it. Even though Poland decided to approve the
plan in the end, both countries have criticised the idea heavily. The core
of the quota system and also the root of the dispute seems to be the matter of
solidarity. Whereas the EU leaders keep stressing that solidarity is a neces-
sary precondition for a proper functioning of the Common European Asylum
40* Markéta Votoupalová – University of Economics, Prague, e-mail: votoupalo-
va.marketa@gmail.com, ORCID: 0000-0003-3974-0981.
44
Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
System and all member states must help each other in case of need, Poland
and the Czech Republic argue that the quota system is malfunctioning since
the refugees themselves are not interested in being relocated to these two
countries. Both Polish and Czech politicians stress the necessity to take care
of their own citizens rst and oppose the idea of being told what to do by the
‘Brussels elites’. This being said, both countries insist that they still act in
the spirit of solidarity and consider it to be very important for the EU inte-
gration. Their perception of solidarity, however, seems to be much different
from how it is understood by the EU representatives.
Drawing on scholarly literature on the concept of solidarity, it is in-
deed very dif cult to de ne it. There is not a single all encompassing
and unambiguous conceptualisation. How solidarity is perceived, seems
to depend on the context and to be rather subjective. Hence, the main
aim of this article is to explore how solidarity is constructed and under-
stood in the context of the current refugee crisis in the EU and to what
degree it differs in the discourse of the EU and the two selected member
states. Many articles discussing both the concept of solidarity and the ap-
proach of Poland and the Czech Republic to the refugee issue have been
published lately. However, a speci c focus on discursive construction of
solidarity on a particular empirical case study is rather unique. Also the
international aspect of solidarity remains rather underresearched. A spe-
cial attention is given to the sustainability of the Czech and Polish critical
approach within the EU context.
Since the focus of this study lies in analyzing how solidarity is dis-
cursively constructed, the methodological background develops on the
Discourse-Historical Approach which enables to explore solidarity in
a broader socio-political context. The article proceeds as follows: rst,
the methodology and data are presented. Secondly, scholarly conceptu-
alisations of solidarity are introduced. Thirdly, the EU approach to the
current refugee situation is explained and fourthly, attention is paid to
the Czech and Polish attitude. Following up on the theoretical basis of the
study, all empirical sections are seen through the lense of solidarity.
Research Puzzle and Research Design
As already mentioned, the main focus of this study is to explore the
seeming contradiction in how solidarity is perceived by the EU and by
Poland and the Czech Republic. Particularly, the following research ques-
tions will be answered:
In the context of the current refugee crisis, how is solidarity per-
ceived by the EU?
45
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
Is the construction of solidarity in Poland and the Czech Republic
different? If so, in what aspects?
Is the EU membership of these two countries sustainable despite
the possible contradiction in how solidarity is perceived or, in other
words, is solidarity a necessary precondition for a sustainable EU
refugee policy or may the differences further intensify the idea of
a two-speed EU?
The Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) was selected as appropri-
ate since it enables to study the connection between the form and func-
tion of a speci c type of communication.1 The DHA explores both the
micro-level of particular texts that the analysed discourse consists of and
the meso- and macro-level of their contextualisation.2 The focus on con-
text is signi cant for the DHA and highlights its interdisciplinarity as
discourse is not analysed from a solely linguistic perspective, but also in
a socio-political context.3
The analysis proceeds on two levels. Firstly, the entry-level analysis
aims at identifying discursive topics and hence, can be understood as
a thematic analysis. Secondly, the in-depth analysis explores discursive
strategies, particularly how social actors are represented and what type of
argumentation they use. Especially the argumentation strategies, called
topoi, are very useful to examine how solidarity is perceived by particu-
lar actors. Topoi are to be understood as linguistic and cognitive proc-
esses ascribed to speci c situations, for instance to defend what is right
and wrong or to intetionally manipulate.4 Topoi are in fact argumentation
schemes or headings under which particular arguments can be assigned.
To sum up, topoi help understand how the scrutinised discourse is pre-
sented.5 Whereas topics are usually evident and explicit, topoi are often
used implicitly and the process of their identi cation can be demanding.6
In this article, an open coding process lead by data was used to identify
both topics and topoi.7
1 R. Wodak, M. Krzyżanowski, Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences,
Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke; New York 2008, p. 1.
2 M. Krzyżanowski, International leadership re-/constructed? Ambivalence and hete-
rogeneity of identity discourses in European Union’s policy on climate change, “Journal of
Language and Politics“, vol. 14:1, pp. 111–112.
3 R. Wodak, M. Krzyżanowski, op. cit., p. 2.
4 M. Reisigl, Argumentation Analysis and the Discourse-Historical Approach. A Metho-
dological Framework, in: Contemporary Critical Discourse Studies, ed. C. Hart, P. Cap,
Bloomsbury, London 2014, p. 70.
5 M. Krzyżanowski, op. cit., p. 121.
6 M. Reisigl, op. cit., p. 75.
7 G. Gibbs, Analyzing Qualitative Data, SAGE, Los Angeles2018, pp. 61–62.
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Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
The choice of Poland and the Czech Republic as case studies follows
from the overall theme of this special journal number. Analysed data
cover the time period from late Spring 2015, when the number of incom-
ing refugees to the EU escalated, to July 2018 when the data collection
was nished. This time span allows to explore the development of the
discourse on solidarity in time, as well. In order for the analysis to be
detailed, only the political discourse was explored. To ensure representa-
tiveness and complexity of the study, various discourse genres were exam-
ined, namely political documents, reports and programs as well as state-
ments of relevant political leaders (Presidents of the European Council,
Commission and Parliament and the Commissioner for migration in case
of the EU and Prime Ministers and Ministers responsible for migration
in Poland and the Czech Republic). The data were retrieved from of cial
websites of the relevant institutions. Direct quotations were preferred to
paraphrases to ensure reliability.
Conceptualisation of Solidarity
Both scholars and politicians very often explain the problems within
the EU by the lack of solidarity. Although this is not a new phenom-
enon and such complaints and criticisms are to be found in the past as
well,8 the current debates seem to have gained a new impetus. Whereas
those claiming that solidarity regarding dealing with the current refugee
ows is insuf cient stress the difference between solidarity as a value to
be cherished and sel sh national interests, Polish and Czech politicians
insinuate that one can express solidarity and defend their national inter-
ests at the same time. In order to understand how such discrepancies are
possible, we start with introducing how solidarity is explored and seen
by scholars. Historically, solidarity has had many meanings and connota-
tions. Comte, stressing its moral and affective aspects, puts it into a so-
cial and economic context. In the socialist tradition, solidarity represents
asymmetrical power relations and oppression, for liberal sociologists,
solidarity explains social integration of societies.9
8 Cf. J. Apap, S. Carrera, Maintaining Security within Borders: Towards a Permanent
State of Emergency in the EU?, “CEPS Policy Briefs“, no. 4/2003; G. Campesi, The
Arab Spring and the Crisis of the European Border Regime: Manufacturing Emergency in
the Lampedusa Crisis, “EUI RSCAS Working Papers“ no. 59/2011; S. Carrera et al.,
A Race against Solidarity. The Schengen Regime and the Franco-Italian Affair, “CEPS“,
vol. April/2011; G. Cornelisse, What‘s Wrong with Schengen? Border Disputes and the
Nature of Integration in the Area Without Internal Borders, “Common Market Law
Review“, vol. 51/2014, pp. 741–770.
9 M. Pensky, The ends of solidarity: discourse theory in ethics and politics, State Uni-
versity of New York Press, Albany 2008.
47
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
Currently, the research into the notion of solidarity has gained much
attention but remains rather fragmented and dependent on the context:
solidarity can be exlored on various levels (family or state) and from differ-
ent angles (traditional, affective, as a normative concept).10 Some scholars
introduce their own typologies of solidarity. Shelby11 differentiates between
a robust solidarity which makes people feel obliged to act and an expres-
sional solidarity which motivates to act but is not binding. Gould,12 fol-
lowing up on Bayertz, offers a typology consisting of solidarity as a kind of
fraternity, or as an anonymous kind of bond holding societies together, or
as a core of a welfare state or, lastly, as a way how people can defend their
shared interests. Very often, solidarity is seen either as project-driven (ra-
tional) or, contrarily, as emotional or affective.13 Additionally, De Beer and
Koster14 distinguish between informal solidarity in a society where people
know each other and formal solidarity mediated by institutions.
Furthermore, it must be stated, that although solidarity is studied
from different angles, such as moral,15 racial,16 social17 or political,18 the
research into the international aspect of solidarity, is still limited.19 How-
10 W. Rehg, Solidarity and the Common Good: An Analytic Framework, “Journal of
Social Philosophy“, vol. 38:1/2007, pp. 7–21.
11 T. Shelby, We who are dark: the philosophical foundations of Black solidarity, Belk-
nap Press, Cambridge, MA 2012.
12 C. Gould, Transnational Solidarities, “Journal of Social Philosophy“, no. 38:1/2007,
pp. 148–164.
13 G. Crow, Social solidarities. Theories, identities, and social change,Open University
Press, Filadel e2002; P. De Beer, F. Koster, Sticking Together or Falling Apart? Solidarity
in an Era of Individualization and Globalization, Amsterdam University Press, Amster-
dam2009.
14 P. De Beer, F. Koster, op. cit.
15 J. Harvey, Moral Solidarity and Empathetic Understanding: The Moral Value and
Scope of the Relationship, “Journal of Social Philosophy“, 38:1/2007, pp. 22–37.
16 D. Chong, R. Rogers, Racial Solidarity and Political Participation, “Political
Behavior“, no. 27:4/2005, pp. 347–374; J. Hooker, Race and the politics of solidarity,
Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York 2009; T. Shelby, op. cit.
17 G. Crow, op. cit.
18 K.P. Rippe, Diminishing Solidarity, “Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, no.
1/1998, pp. 355–374; S. Scholz, Political Solidarity and Violent Resistance, “Journal of
Social Philosophy“, 38:1/2007, pp. 38–52; E. Dussel, From Fraternity to Solidarity: To-
ward a Politics of Liberation, “Journal of Social Philosophy“, vol. 38:1/2007, pp. 73–92.
19 L. Wilde, The Concept of Solidarity: Emerging from the Theoretical Shadows?,
“BJPIR“, no. 9/2007, pp. 171–181; L. May, The International Community, Solidarity and
the Duty to Aid, “Journal of Social Philosophy“, no. 38:1/2007, pp. 185–203; J.-M. Coi-
caud, N.J. Wheeler, National Interest and International Solidarity: Particular and Uni-
versal Ethics in International Life, United Nations University Press, Tokyo, JPN 2008;
E. Tulmets, Identities and Solidarity in Foreign Policy: East Central Europe and the Eastern
Neighbourhood, Institute of International Relations, Prague 2012.
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Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
ever, it is important to the issue of this paper to have a look exactly at how
solidarity is conceptualised in the area of international relations. Draw-
ing on what has been said above, solidarity is presented as rational and
pragmatic rather than emotional. Indeed, it is often linked to national
interests and solidarity and interests are not perceived as incompatible.
On the contrary, according to Coicaud and Wheeler,20 national interests
and solidarity must take each other into account. It is not possible for
a state to act purely sel shly and on the other hand, solidarity is not solely
about what is right or wrong but can even enhance security or interests.
Similarly, Krieg21 argues that interests are not always sel sh in nature and
that there is a continuum between solidarity and interests which are not
mutually exclusive.
All in all, even this brief introduction into the concept of solidarity
demonstrates how complex and ambiguous it is. Nevertheless, it is pos-
sible to identify some main discursive strategies. Regarding social actors,
scholars tend to foreground states as the main actors. The most frequent
argumentation strategy is the topos of otherness: solidarity is always bound
to a speci c community which shares their common interests. In the case
of international solidarity, the topos of usefulness is highlighted which
grasps the idea that solidarity is always linked to promoting interests. If
there is no shared interest, solidarity will not occur. However, as Shelby22
stresses, solidarity can survive incompletely shared interests. Overall, in-
ternational solidarity seems to be rather pragmatic.
EU Approach to the Refugee Flows
Refugee ows became one of the main political and media issues in
Summer 2015. Despite this not being a completely new topic, the increase
in numbers of incoming refugees was signi cant during 2015 and 2016
compared to the previous years. Although the EU was criticised for not
having acted quickly enough, the rst plans to handle the emergency situ-
ation were developed immediately. Already in June 2015, the rst propos-
al of refugee quotas was voted upon and during Autumn, the plan to en-
hance the capacity of Frontex was proposed. Unfortunately, it took a long
time for these initiatives to be implemented and some member states un-
dertook national steps, such as reintroducing internal border controls and
even building fences, in the meantime.
20 J.-M. Coicaud, N.J. Wheeler, op. cit.
21 A. Krieg, Motivations for Humanitarian Intervention: Theoretical and Empirical
Considerations, Springer, Heidelberg 2013.
22 T. Shelby, op. cit.
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M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
The main document summarising the goals of the EU is the European
Agenda on Migration which was put forward by the Commission in May
2015. The agenda is presented as “a coherent and comprehensive approach
to reap the bene ts and address the challenges deriving from migration“.23
Its “immediate imperative is the duty to protect those in need, to avert fur-
ther loss of life“ and to “address the root causes of migration“.24 “Europe
should continue to be a safe haven for those eeing persecution“ and up-
hold its “international commitments and values“ but, at the same time, se-
cure its borders.25 These quotations show a clear effort of the EU to achieve
a balance between ensuring human rights, including refugee rights and, at
the same time, securing its borders. The rst argumentation strategy could
be called atopos of human right and the latter a topos of security. Also, the
EU insists on upholding its legal commitments, both internally as EU ac-
quis but also externally in the sense of international law. Hence, atopos of
rules appears. Another topos used by the EU could be labelled as a topos of
burden sharing since the core of the European approach is thecooperation
between all member states “in accordance with the principles of solidarity
and shared responsibility“.26 Overall, in spite of the fact that the notion of
solidarity is not developed in any detail explicitly, speci c argumentation
strategies can be identi ed in the agenda.
Particularly, the agenda is divided into two main sections. The rst
part is called Immediate Action and aims at saving lives at sea, ghting
against smugglers, relocation and resettlement, partnership with third
countries and helping member states at the EU external border. Accord-
ing to the agenda, “Europe cannot stand by whilst lives are being lost“
and must show a “welcome solidarity“ (a strong topos of human rights).27
Simultaneously, everything must be done to prevent irregular migra-
tion and human smuggling (topos of security). Relocations are presented
“a permanent system for sharing the responsibility for large numbers of
refugees and asylum seekers among Member States’ in which all ’Mem-
ber States will need to show solidarity and redouble their efforts to assist
those countries on the frontline“.28 Another measure how to help those
states at the external border is to send them nancial help and create
hotspots. Similarly, the member states should help UNHCR with reset-
23 European Agenda on Migration, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/
TXT/?qid=1433336249722&uri=CELEX:52015DC0240 (7.01.2017).
24 European Agenda on Migration, op. cit., p. 2.
25 Ibidem.
26 Ibidem.
27 Ibidem, p. 3.
28 Ibidem, p. 4.
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Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
tlements from the most affected countries outside the EU. In both cases,
the topos of burden sharing is intense.
Then, a section on long-term strategies follows which consists of sev-
eral pillars to manage migration better. According to these pillars, the
EU must continue to help people in need but “draw the consequences
when migrants do not meet the criteria to stay“ (not speci ed how but
the EU wants to prevent irregular migration which undermines con -
dence in the European asylum systems and offers an easy target to critical
voices).29 Then, the EU must reduce incentives for irregular migration
through partnership with third countries, ef cient return policy and
ght against smugglers. Furthermore, the border management must be
improved and help save lives at sea but also secure the external border.
Again, the topos of human rights is balanced by the topos of security.
The duty of the EU to protect people in need must be supported by
a functioning common asylum system which will be abided by all mem-
ber states (topos of rules). Last but not least, the Commission proposes
a new policy on legal migration which goes beyong tackling the refugee
in ows but basically appreciates migration as “an important way to en-
hance the sustainability of our welfare system and to ensure sustainable
growth of the EU economy“.30
Particular steps followed in line with this agenda. However, an agree-
ment across all member states was not always achieved. The quota sys-
tem appeared to be the most problematic aspect of the EU approach. The
idea of relocating asylum seekers goes back to the principle of the Dub-
lin regulation. According to Dublin III, if we simplify, it is only possible
to apply for asylum once in the whole EU and the country responsible
for assessing an asylum application is usually the rst country of entry.
Logically, this system leads to a very uneven distribution of applications
in the member states. After the numbers of incoming refugees increased
signi cantly in 2015, the Commission acknowledged that the system is
not sustainable and proposed an amendment to the Dublin regulation,
Dublin IV. The aim of this recast was to further harmonise asylum pro-
cedures across the EU and to make the allocation of asylum seekers more
even.31 The principle was supposed to be based on the number of received
refugees which could not exceed 150% of each member state’s fair share of
asylum applications calculated from its population (50%) and GDP (50%).
If this share was to be exceeded, all additional applicants would be relo-
29 Ibidem, p. 7.
30 Ibidem, p. 14.
31 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:52016PC0270
(23.09.2018).
51
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
cated to other member states. If such a member state refusedto accept any
applicants, it could instead pay 250 000 EUR per person to another state
which would accept the respective person.32
However, in September 2018, when this article is written, Dublin IV
is still not adopted. In the meantime, the Commission proposed the al-
ready mentioned plan on the refugee quotas. The rst version proposed
in June was not accepted, the second version was refused by the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania and abstained by Finland but
despite this accepted in September 2015. Poland voted in favour of the
proposal in the end. Slovakia and Hungary even sent an of cial complaint
to the European Court of Justice but it was judged as unsubstantiated in
Autumn 2017.33 The quota system was limited in time – it lasted for two
years – and was intended to include 160 000 asylum applicants from Italy
and Greece.34 The following graph shows that only about 31 500 reloca-
tion were executed in the end which is only a small share despite the
growing numbers in time.This demonstrates the difference between the
EU approach which stresses the topos of burden sharing and the member
states which do not feel bound by this idea. Whereas the EU aims at help-
ing the member states in need and wants to ensure acceptable living con-
ditions to refugees, the member states seem to prefer their own interests
(see the next chapter).
Apart from the relocation system, the Commission proposed to resettle
20 000 refugees from the most affected third countries outside the EU. By
September 2017, 17 000 refugees were successfully resettled, most of them
within the EU-Turkey agreement. Although this agreement, especially
the 1:1 mechanism, is often criticised for perceiving refugees as trading
goods and for being in breach with international (humanitarian) law,35
from a pragmatic perspective, it is a success since the illegal crossings
(and also deaths at sea) from Turkey to Greece decreased signi cantly.36
The EU wants to negotiate a similar kind of agreement with Libya, which
32 https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/ les/what-we-do/polici-
es/european-agenda-migration/background-information/docs/20160504/the_reform_
of_the_dublin_system_en.pdf (23.09.2018); https://www.ceps.eu/publications/medi-
terranean-migrants-little-help-offer-italy (23.09.2018).
33 Case C-647/15 from 2. December 2015 and case C-643/15 from 3. December 2015.
34 https://www.ceps.eu/system/ les/TFR%20EU%20Border%20and%20Coast%20
Guard%20with%20cover_0.pdf (23.09.2018); https://www.ceps.eu/publications/rethinking
-asylum-distribution-eu-shall-we-start-facts (23.09.2018).
35 https://www.ceps.eu/system/ les/EU-Turkey%20Deal.pdf (23.09.2018).
36 https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/ les/what-we-do/policies/euro-
pean-agenda-migration/background-information/eu_turkey_statement_17032017_en.pdf
(23.09.2018).
52
Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
is one of the main smuggling hubs in Africa. Also, the EU tries to adopt
readmission agreements with other African countries to further reduce
the number of incoming refugees.37 Whereas the numbers of incoming
refugees declined during 2017, the return policy is not so successful and
the vast majority of denied asylum seekers remains on the Europeal soil.38
It seems, that balancing burden sharing (helping third countries) and se-
curity is not very easy in practice.
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
2015 2016
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
2016 2017
IT
EL
Total
Fig. 1. Relocations from Greece and Italy
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/ les/what-we-do/policies/
european-agenda-migration/20170904_factsheet_relocation_and_resettlement_en.pdf
(23.09.2018).
The need for a common EU approach to the refugee issue is further
stressed by the existence of the Schengen cooperation. Since there are
no internal borders within the Schengen Area and anybody can travel
freely across it, the member states are very closely dependent on each
other. Without sufficient trust and agreement on common solutions,
some member states reacted by reintroducing their internal border
controls. Germany did so already in September 2015 and was soon
followed by Austria, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.39 All countries
justified their decision by fear from not being able to manage migra-
37 https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/ les/what-we-do/policies/euro-
pean-agenda-migration/20170704_factsheet_-_central_mediterranean_route_commissi-
on_action_plan_to_support_italy_and_stem_ ows_en.pdf (23.09.2018).
38 http://www.css.ethz.ch/en/services/digital-library/articles/article.html/2318296
f-e06e-4536-9c51-c6eb370c1068/pdf (23.09.2018).
39 Council Document 11986/15; Council Document 12110/15; Council Docu-
ment 14996/15; Council Document 14047/15.
53
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
tion flows.40 Even though both Poland and the Czech Republic also
considered internal reintroductions, they did not make the final deci-
sion to do so. Despite the number of reintroductions being limited, it
shows how difficult it is for the EU to push through the idea of (self-
less) burden sharing.
In order to save the Schengen Area from collapsing, the EU pro-
posed to strengthen the Frontex agency. The ideaof a European Border
and Coast Guard (EBCG) with a bigger budget, more employees and an
enhanced capacity in controlling the external border and return policy
dates back to 2015 but nally came into force in September 2016.41 Apart
from Frontex joint operations in the Mediterranean and Aegean sea (e.g.
Triton and Poseidon operations), the EUsupports ght against smugglers
(EUNAFVOR MED Sophia operation) and supports Italy and Greece -
nancially.42 Also, the EU strengthened the role of security databases, such
as the Schengen Information System II, Europol and Eurojust databases,
and proposed new databases, especially the Passenger Name Record and
Entry-Exit System.43 The topos of security prevails regarding these initia-
tives since they aim at preventing crime, irregular migration and securing
EU external borders.
It follows from this chapter, that based on the entry-level analysis, it
can be said that in general, the European approach has an internal dimen-
sion ( nancial help to the most affected member states, especially Italy
and Greece, and relocations) and an external dimension (return policy,
readmission agreements, nancial help to third countries of origin and
transit and agreements with Turkey and Libya). Both dimensions have
short- and long-term aspects. These topics are presented using various
argumentative strategies, especially the topoi of burden sharing, rules, hu-
man rights and security (see the table below for a systematic presentation
of both topics and argumentation strategies). The results of both levels
of the DHA analysis will now be compared with the Polish and Czech
approach.
40 Slovenia also reintroduced its internal borders but abolished them after a mon-
th. Belgium and France reimposed their controls due to fear from terrorism.
41 Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and of the Council of
14 September 2016 on the European Border and Coast Guard.
42 Cf. https://www.ceps.eu/system/ les/TFR%20EU%20Border%20and%20Coast
%20Guard%20with%20cover_0.pdf (23.09.2018).
43 http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/ ght-against-terrorism/passenger-
name-record/ (23.09.2018).
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Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
Tab. 1. EU construction of solidarity
Topos Argumentation strategy Topics
Burden
sharing The EU and its member states must help the
most affected states like Italy and Greece by
relocating some refugees to other member
states and by helping them control the
external EU border; furthermore the most
affected third countries must be helped
too, by sending them nancial help and by
resettling refugees
Refugee quotas,
Schengen, external
border control,
cooperation
with 3. countries
Rules All member states must accept common
EU rules, such as the Common European
Asylum System and the Schengen Acquis
Refugee quotas,
Schengen, CEAS,
international law
Security The EU and its member states must protect
the external borders, prevent irregular
migration and ght against smugglers
Schengen, external
border control,
databases, EU-Turkey
agreement, ght
against smugglers and
irregular migration,
return policy
Human
rights The EU and its member states must
protect human rights of refugees; economic
migration seen as an opportunity
Refugee rights, right
to asylum, economic
migration
Source: Author's own.
Czech and Polish Approach: Differences
and Similarities
Neither the Czech Republic nor Poland were among the member
states most affected by the refugee crisis. The following two graphs
demonstrate this fact. It follows from the rst gure that the increase in
asylum seekers was quite signi cant in 2015 and 2016, the latter graph
shows that the numbers of asylum applications in both countries were
very low.However, both countries were very vocal on their objections
to the EU approach towards refugees. In this section, their actions and
discourse with regard to the concept of solidarity will be analysed and
compared to the EU.
55
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012
Total (*)
First time applicant (*)
(*) 2006 and 2007. EU-27 and extra-EU-27
(*) 2006 and 2007: not available
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Fig. 2. Asylum applications in the EU
Source: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics
(23.09.2018).
Germany
Italy
France
Greece
Austria
UK
Hungary
Sweden
Netherland
Bulgaria
Spain
Belgium
Poland
Denmark
Finland
Cyprus
Ireland
Croatia
Luxenbourg
Romania
Malta
Slovenia
Czech Rep.
Portugal
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Slovakia
Switzerland
Norway
Iceland(*)
Lichtenstein(*)
750
400
200
150
100
50
0
2015
Note: the y-axis is interrupted with a different interval above the interruption from that below it.
(*) 2015: not available
2016
Fig. 3. Asylum applications in EU member states
Source: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics
(23.09.2018).
56
Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
Both countries criticised especially the refugee quota system. Based
on the population, GDP and already received number of refugees, the
Czech Republic was supposed to accept 2691 refugees and Poland 6182
refugees. These are not very high numbers but all Czech governmental
parties agreed that quotas are not and cannot be a functioning solution to
the current crisis and refused them openly. Most of the opposition parties,
especially the communist party, the conservative ODS and right-winged
populist SPD were even more critical of relocations, the only party explic-
itly in favour of the relocation system was the conservative-liberal TOP09.
The sharpest critics were the minister of nance A. Babiš (ANO) and
social-democratic minister of interior M. Chovanec (ČSSD). According
to Babiš, the goal of the Czech Republic is: “to persuade European politi-
cians to stop being politically correct and start thinking about security of
their own citizens and not about humanitarian help which is important
but easy to be abused“.44 In this citation, there is a strong focus on citizens
rather than refugees which is typical of the Czech construction of the topos
of human rights, as opposed to the EU.
The prime minister B. Sobotka adopted a more nuanced position when
he claimed that refusing quotas does not mean that the Czech Republic
does not want to express solidarity but rather that it is a refusal of an order
“from above“, meaning from Brussels. He argued that he would rather help
on a voluntary basis and already in 2015 promised to accept 400 persons
from third countries and 1 100 persons from Italy and Greece.45 Sobotka
said about the quota system: “I’m convinced that by accepting this pro-
posal, the Commission doesn’t respect [...] that the member states agreed
the recolation mechanism would be voluntary“.46 Despite this criticism
and despite stressing the importance of national sovereignty, Sobotka
acknowledges the importance of a common EU approach: “immigration
policy is within the competence of particular national governments and
it should remain so [...]“. He denied that solidarity can be ordered from
above but acknowledged that “we must participate in nding a European
solution“.47 He added that “our aim isn’t to put the Czech Republic into
isolation in the EU but, to the contrary, to be able to put our arguments
forward“.48 Hence, the Czech Republic wants to comply with the EU rules
44 https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/386512-pokud-neuzavreme-hranice-schengen-
se-rozpadne-tvrdi-babis.html (23.09.2018).
45 https://apps.odok.cz/attachment/-/down/IHOA9YFF864R (23.09.2018).
46 https://www.vlada.cz/cz/clenove-vlady/premier/projevy/vystoupeni-premiera-bohu-
slava-sobotky-v-poslanecke-snemovne-k-tematu-migracni-krize--131926/ (23.09.2018).
47 https://www.psp.cz/sqw/interp.sqw?o=7&s=44 (23.09.2018).
48 https://www.psp.cz/sqw/interp.sqw?o=7&s=33 (23.09.2018).
57
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
(topos of rules) but only if its sovereignty to decide about accepting refu-
gees is maintained. In line with this moderate approach, the Czech Re-
public decided not to sue the EU for having acted illegally as Slovakia and
Hungary did (see above). Despite that, the Czech Republic was strongly
criticised by the Commission since minister Chovanec explicitly stated
that, after having received 12 refugees, we would not accept a single one
any more. Also Babiš’s rhetoric escalated into considering a complaint
against quotas even if we were to be punished by sanctions. According to
him: “We must take care of security of the Czech citizens. Even if threat-
ened by sanctions“.49
Another reason why the Czech Republic rejected relocations was the
perception that the refugees themselves do not want to come here: “a bind-
ing and permanent quota system can’t be functional, in particular because
the respective people aren’t willing to settle in countries where they don’t
want to be“,50 as Sobotka said. By the same token, Babiš argued: “Indeed,
the refugees don’t want to come to the V4 countries and the EU should
realisethat“.51 As a consequence, Czech politicians prefer to accept refu-
gees from culturally similar countries, like Ukraine.52 The topos of human
rights seems to be conditioned by cultural ties.
Also, since Autumn 2015, the Czech government has repeatedly ac-
cepted nancial, material and personal help for many countries in need
including Hungary, Slovenia, Macedonia, Jordan and Lebanon.53 All
49 A. Babiš, Facebook pro le.
50 https://www.psp.cz/sqw/interp.sqw?o=7&s=44 (23.09.2018).
51 https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/397061-cesko-muze-prijmout-syrske-uprchli-
ky-primo-z-turecka-tvrdi-sobotka.html (23.09.2018).
52 http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ct24/domaci/1579158-babisuv-recept-na-uprchliky
-zavrit-schengen-a-nepodporovat-ekonomicke-migranty (23.09.2018).
53 Usnesení vlády České republiky ze dne 19. října 2015 č. 843 k návrhu opatření
v souvislosti s vysláním příslušníků Policie České republiky do Maďarska (Resolution
of the Government of the Czech Republic dated 19 October 2015 No. 843 on the draft
measure in connection with the deployment of members of the Police of the Czech Re-
public to Hungary); Usnesení vlády České republiky ze dne 2. listopadu 2015 č. 888 k
vyslání příslušníků Policie České republiky do Republiky Slovinsko (Resolution of the
Government of the Czech Republic dated 2 November 2015 No. 888 on the deployment
of members of the Police of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Slovenia). Usnesení
vlády České republiky ze dne 21.prosince 2015 č. 1087 o vyslání příslušníků Policie České
republiky do Republiky Slovinsko a do Makedonské republiky a o poskytnutí peněžního
daru Makedonské republice (Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic dated
21 December 2015 No. 1087 on the deployment of members of the Police of the Czech
Republic to the Republic of Slovenia and to the Republic of Macedonia and on providing
a nancial donation to the Republic of Macedonia); Usnesení vlády České republiky ze
dne 16. března 2016 č. 235 o způsobu plnění usnesení vlády ze dne 21. prosince 2015 č.
1087, o vyslání příslušníků Policie České republiky do Republiky Slovinsko a do Make-
58
Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
cooperation is bilateral, not within the EU framework. Particularly, the
Czech government implemented several national plans such as the hu-
manitarian and medical programme MEDEVAC54 or a scholarship pro-
gramme for Syrian refugees.55 As Sobotka argued: “solidary initiatives de-
veloped to help third and transit countries are one of the key instruments
for solving the migration crisis [...]“.56 Overall, he prefers “to help people
in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey rather than to let these people travel to
Europe with naive and skewed ideas“.57
In the EU, the Czech politicians advocated mostly in favour of enhanc-
ing external border controls. Prime minister Sobotka even proposed a few
concrete initiatives on how to protect the external borders (strengthen-
ing of Frontex, development of smart borders, enhanced cooperation with
Turkey as well as African and Balkan countries). Sobotka also stressed
how important it is to protect Schengen, to follow the rules and to im-
prove return policies.58 He also highlighted the need to solve the roots of
the problems and not their consequences.59 The topos of burden sharing is
explicitly linked to third countries and help outside the EU and to exter-
nal border control, not to relocations.
Overall, there is an obvious clash present in the Czech discourse in
which the EU approach is boiled down to the quota system whereas the
Czech politicians strive for a more complex and systematic solution.
donské republiky a o poskytnutí peněžního daru Makedonské republice (Resolution of
the Government of the Czech Republic dated 16 March, 2016 no. 235 on the method of
implementation of Government Resolution dated December 21, 2015 no. 1087, on the
deployment of members of the Police of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Slovenia
and the Republic of Macedonia and on providing a nancial donation to the Republic of
Macedonia).
54 Usnesení vlády České republiky ze dne 20. listopadu 2015 č. 956 o zřízení Stálého
zdravotně humanitárního programu MEDEVAC (Resolution of the Government of the
Czech Republic dated 20 November 2015 No. 956 on the establishment of the Permanent
Health Program MEDEVAC).
55 Usnesení vlády České republiky ze dne 8. června 2016 č. 513 k vyhodnocení progra-
mu Nové elity pro Sýrii, programu stipendií vlády České republiky syrským uprchlíkům
(Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic dated 8 June 2016 No. 513 on the
evaluation of the program New Elites for Syria, a program of scholarships by the Gover-
nment of the Czech Republic to Syrian refugees).
56 https://www.vlada.cz/cz/media-centrum/aktualne/premier-sobotka-informoval-
predsedu-ek-junckera-o-vyraznem-navyseni-ceske- nancni-pomoci-v-souvislosti-s-
migracni-krizi-136675/ (23.09.2018).
57 https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/395326-sobotka-pokud-lide-utikaji-pred-valkou
-mame-povinnost-jim-pomoci.html (23.09.2018).
58 http://www.bohuslavsobotka.cz/cs/premier-sobotka-vyzval-evropske-partnery-k-
posileni-spoluprace-pri-ochrane-vnejsich-hranic-a-zachovani-schengenu (23.09.2018).
59 https://www.psp.cz/sqw/interp.sqw?o=7&s=44 (23.09.2018).
59
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
As the Vice-Prime Minister Bělobrádek said: “It must be a misunder-
standing of the V4 opinion which is solidary and responsible“.60 How-
ever, when examined closer, there is no such clash in practice sincethe
EU also agrees on the importance of preventing refugee flows and en-
hancing security (topos of security) and indeed, with the exception of
the quota system, the Czech Republic acts in line with the EU agenda
and politicians agree on the importance of solidarity. As the Prime
Minister argued: “We are a country that expresses solidarity, a country
that helps and I want to state clearly that we are also a country that
will continue to do so“.61 Hence, even though the Czech government
promotes security and Czech interests, it also feels to be obliged by the
EU commitments.
Even though the topos of human rights is only used very rarely, the ba-
sic commitment to accept refugees in need is not questioned. As Sobotka
claims: “if people really ee from war, a there many of such kind, we
are obliged to help them. Not only because of our international commit-
ments but because we are a civilised country with a strong humanitarian
tradition“.62 He also wants to “link the humanitarian and security aspect
of the refugee crisis“.63 On the other hand, Sobotka sees it as a problem
that: “in the unregulated ows, there are people who need help as well as
economic migrants“.64 And he does not feel commited to help the latter.
In general, solidarity seems to be unproblematic if it only has an im-
pact outside of the Czech territory. The Czech perception of solidarity
aims at helping those in need but in the countries of origin rather than
in the EU. For instance the report65 of the Ministry of Interior says in
the introduction that the Czech approach to solidarity has always been
determined by the principles of solidarity and responsibility. Speci cally,
solidarity is exempli ed on the example of nancial, personal and mate-
rial help for countries affected by the refugee crisis. The document says
60 https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/395982-rozhovor-renziho-v-pravu-nadzvedl-ceske
-politiky.html (23.09.2018).
61 https://www.vlada.cz/cz/clenove-vlady/premier/projevy/vystoupeni-premiera
-bohuslava-sobotky-v-poslanecke-snemovne-k-tematu-migracni-krize--131926/
(23.09.2018).
62 https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/395326-sobotka-pokud-lide-utikaji-pred-valkou
-mame-povinnost-jim-pomoci.html (23.09.2018).
63 http://roklen24.cz/a/iYdjN/sobotka-cesko-odmita-mensi-schengen-chce-ochranu
-nynejsiho (23.09.2018).
64 https://www.novinky.cz/domaci/395326-sobotka-pokud-lide-utikaji-pred-valkou
-mame-povinnost-jim-pomoci.html (23.09.2018).
65 http://www.mvcr.cz/migrace/clanek/informace-vlady-cr-o-migracni-krizi.aspx
(23.09.2018).
60
Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
nothing about solidarity towards refugees and little about burden sharing
(only the voluntary commitment to relocate 1100 and resettle 400 refugees
is mentioned). Simultaneously, Czech politicians require solidarity from
other countries, especially those in the Middle East which should offer
help based on cultural and social similarities with refugees and from Italy
and Greece that should ful l their responsibilities and properly check the
EU external borders. In line with this, the Minister of Foreign Affairs
L. Zaorálek frequently stresses that the Czech Republic is not the only
country which disagrees with the quota system.66
Also the Polish public discourse has been formed by the refugee crisis
since 2015 even though Poland, together with Hungary, did not accept any
refugees based on the quota system by September 2017. This happened
despite the fact that Poland, contrary to the Czech Republic, voted in fa-
vour of the refugee quota system. However, this decision was followed by
parliamentary elections and the new right-winged government led by the
Law and Justice (PiS) party was very critical of the system. Even the then
government party Civic Platform (OP) acknowledged that there would be
tough negotiations about the quota system. Explicitly against quotas were
also the two right-winged parties Kukiz’15 and KORWiN. The liberal party
Together was the only one in favour of showing solidarity towards refu-
gees.67 From the very beginning, the main problem regarding relocations
was that they were legally binding. As the Prime Minister E. Kopacz (OP)
said before the elections: “solidarity concerning the division of refugees
should be based on the voluntary basis. We don’t want this solidarity to
be forced solidarity, but, we also don’t want this solidarity to be deprived
of good will“.68 A balance between helping but not being pushed to help is
desired. Also the following Prime Minister B. Szydło (PiS) stressed that
“government will honour EU arrangements as regards refugees, however,
the safety of the Poles will be of utmost importance“.69 The next Prime
Minister M. Morawiecki (PiS) highlighted the topos of sovereignty when he
repeatedly claimed that: “any relocation of refugees must take place with
the consent of the Member States“ which “need to have right to decide on
66 http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ct24/svet/1529444-zaoralek-kvoty-nechce-stale-vic
-zemi-lide-nejsou-zbozi (23.09.2018).
67 K. Narkowicz,‘Refugees Not Welcome Here’: State, Church and Civil Society
Responses to the Refugee Crisis in Poland, “International Journal of Politics, Culture,
and Society“ 2018,https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-018-9287-9 (23.09.2018).
68 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-ewa-kopacz-in-brussels
-the-government-will-take-a-decision-on-participation.html (23.09.2018).
69 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-beata-szydlo-we-will
-take-every-effort-to-make-the-poles-feel-secure.html (23.09.2018).
61
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
whom to accept and whom not“.70 He also stressed that “almost everyone
can see that the system of compulsory migrant quotas has beenfaulty at the
very heart of its design“.71 In the Polish discourse, similarly to the Czech
one, the topos of burden sharing seems to be conditioned by voluntariness
and focus on citizens who need to be protected rst.
In line with this, in April 2016, the Sejm issued a resolution in which it
criticised relocations and resettlements (especially if carried out as perma-
nent EU mechanisms) and argued that the point of reference should be na-
tional criteria decided by Poland solely. At the same time, the Parliament
supported sending humanitarian aid to countries affected by con ict and
refugee burden.72 Since both countries proved to be rather reluctant in
participating in relocations, the Commission launched a legal case against
them (and Hungary) in June 2017.73 During its mandate, the government
adopted many laws changing the state of affairs in Poland. Many of them
had a broader impact on the whole society (such as the new rules within
the Constitutional Court) but regarding refugees, the new surveillance act
on antiterrorist activities from June 2016 is of importance. During 2017,
the detention rules were widened. Last but not least, Poland tightened
controls on its external borders.74
This is not to say that the EU cooperation is dismissed completely but
it needs to respect national sovereignty: “Europe should be strong in order
to better defend our interests, yet the European sovereignty cannot mean
building the Union at the expense of the strength of the Member States“.75
According to Kopacz, there is no “contradiction between taking care of the
security of our citizens and offering aid to those who ee war zones to save
their lives“76 since “Poland wants to help. However, we will make our own
choice as to who we will help“.77 Kopacz is also the only Prime Minister
who explicitly recalls the topos of human rights towards refugees: “turning
70 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-at-the-meeting-with-the-residents-of-lodz.html (23.09.2018).
71 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-our-foreign-policy-is-a-policy-of-polish-national.html (23.09.2018).
72 M. Pacek, European Europe – The Migration Crisis of European Integration,
“YPES“, vol. 19/2016, pp. 83–100.
73 M. Krzyzanowski, ‘Crisis’ and Migration in Poland: Discursive Shifts, Anti-Plura-
lism and the Politicisation of Exclusion, “Sociology“, vol. 52(3)/2018, pp. 612–618.
74 W. Klaus, Security First: New Right-Wing Government in Poland and its Policy
Towards Immigrants and Refugees, “Surveillance & Society“, vol. 15(3/4), pp. 523–528.
75 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-respecting-national-identities-is-the-foundation-for.html (23.09.2018).
76 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-pm-ewa-kopacz-
poland-is-and-will-be-safe-pro-european-and-tolerant.html (23.09.2018).
77 Ibidem.
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Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
our back to those who need help in this great European family makes us
leave this community morally and mentally“.78 Overall, the topos of human
rights aims rst at Polish citizens whose security should prevail over pro-
tecting refugees.
Poland, as the Czech Republic focuses on external solidarity in the sense
that it prefers to help countries outside the EU. As Morawiecki says: “Po-
land shows solidarity through signi cant involvement in various support
programmes for North Africa and Middle East“,79 and as Szydło adds: “Po-
land had allocated more funds from the general reserve on humanitarian
aid, and in the next year’s budget the funds for support to migrants and
for humanitarian aid would be higher than in 2016“.80 The topos of human
rights seems to be directed outside the EU, like in the Czech discourse.
Poland expressed strong concerns about the majority of refugees being
economic migrants since Poland is not able to take care of the latter. As
Szydło says: “Refugees who are escaping the threat of losing their lives is
one thing, while those who are eeing for economic reasons is a different
matter“.81 Furthermore, the new government voiced concerns regarding
Muslim refugees who were frequently seen as a security risk.82 Politicians
often argued that Poland cannot repeat the mistakes taken by Western Eu-
ropean states where the integration of migrants failed.83 Hence, Poland pre-
fers to accept refugees from Slavic coutries such as Ukraine, Chechnya and
Uzbekistan.84 Indeed, economic migrants and Muslim refugees seem to be
excluded from the topos of human rights. The securitisation of the political
discourse escalated after the Brussels terrorist attacks in 2016 after which
the Prime Minister Szydło stated that no refugees would by accepted by
Poland. The topos of security is very much present in the Polish discourse.
As Szydło argued: “We offer Europe solidarity in the ght against terrorism
and security of the border“.85 Morawiecki even links security directly to sol-
78 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-ewa-kopacz-at-the-
sejm-solidarity-should-work-in-two-directions.html (23.09.2018).
79 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiecki
-we-strongly-believe-in-a-strong-europe-and-a-strong.html (23.09.2018).
80 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-beata-szydlo-in-
brussels-the-eu-ukraine-association-agreement-has-been.html (23.09.2018).
81 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-beata-szydlo-we-will
-take-every-effort-to-make-the-poles-feel-secure.html (23.09.2018).
82 Cf. K. Narkowicz, op. cit.
83 Ibidem.
84 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-polish-vision-of-a-united-europe- ts-in-with-the-vision.html (23.09.2018).
85 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-beata-szydlo-at-
the-meeting-of-the-visegrad-group-in-prague.html (23.09. 018).
63
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
idarity: “Union that is secure, that is, aware of the geopolitical challenges it
faces and ready to respond to them with a single voice of solidarity“.86
Overall, solidarity is cherished as an important value and as a corner-
stone of the EU cooperation by Poland. “We are advocates of unity, open-
ness and solidarity. These ideasmotivate the Polish government and we
wish to build the EU on them“.87 Poland also acknowledges the need to
follow common rules since “without the rules, it is impossible to build
a strong, uniform and solidary EU“. However, it is usually followed by
mentioning state sovereignty: “We want to develop a common European
system and mechanism that will be acceptable and in line with the spirit
of solidarity, [...] – we want, however, to ask our partners to respect certain
sensitivities relating to the elements of internal sovereignty“.88 The topos
of rules is conditioned by ensuring state sovereignty.
86 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-respecting-national-identities-is-the-foundation-for.html (23.09.2018).
87 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/premier-beata-szydlo-chcemy-jednosci
-unii-ue-musi-byc-solidarna-i-zjednoczona.html (23.09.2018).
88 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-close-cooperation-between-poland-and-germany-necessary.html (23.09.2018).
Tab. 2. Czech and Polish construction of solidarity
Topos Argumentation strategy Topics
Burden
sharing The EU and its member states must
control the external EU border and
the most affected third countries
must be helped, particularly by
sending them nancial help; refugee
quotas must be voluntary
Refugee quotas, Schengen,
external border control,
cooperation
with 3. countries
Rules All member states must accept
common EU rules; however, state
sovereignty cannot be undermined
Schengen, CEAS,
international law
Security The EU and its member states must
protect the external borders, prevent
irregular migration and ght against
smugglers
Schengen, external border
control, databases,
EU-Turkey agreement,
ght against smugglers
and irregular migration,
return policy
Human
rights The EU and its member states must
protect human rights of refugees;
protection of citizens prioritised;
culturally close refugees preferred to
Muslims; economic migrants explicitly
excluded from protection
Refugee rights, right
to asylum, economic
migration
NB: Czech and Polish speci cs in constructing the topoi are in italics
Source: Author's own.
64
Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2019
Similarly to the Czech Republic, also Polandinsists that“the EU refu-
gee relocation scheme has not worked out. Other solutions are required
and we want to take part in this discussion“.89 As Kopacz says: the EU
action can not be limited merely to the distribution of refugee quotas.
The actions must be comprehensive and include, inter alia, the issues
of return policy and border sealing“.90 Again, a contradiction is build
up between the EU which requires relocation and Poland that strives
for a more complex approach. However, as was shown above, the EU ap-
proach is much more complex and, apart from relocations, corresponds
with the Polish stance. The clash between what the EU wants and what
Poland and the Czech Republic expect seems to be, to a large extent, ar-
ti cially constructed.
Conclusion
Both the EU and the two selected member states seem to put emphasis
on solidarity as an important aspect of a potential solution of the current
refugee crisis. However, whereas Poland and the Czech Republic criticise
the EU for insisting on a completely faulty refugee quota system, the EU
keeps stressing that both countries show a lack of solidarity when they
refuse to participate in such a system. Ironically, relocations seem to be
the only contested aspect of a more complex solution relying not only on
relocations but also on supporting states most affected by the refugee bur-
den, both nancially, materially and personally, enhancing external bor-
der controls, preventing irregular migration and ghting against smug-
glers. On all these initiatives, there is an agreement between the EU and
Poland and the Czech Republic even though the discourse might seem
escalated at rst sight.
A closer analysis of how solidarity is discursively constructed seems
to be necessary. Employing the DHA, it was explored that the topics
covered by the EU and by the two member states are identical. However,
as follows from the in-depth analysis, the argumentation strategies vary
to a certain degree. Poland and the Czech Republic seem to condition
all of the four main topoithat were identi ed by their own sovereignty
and national interests. As Figure 6 shows, both countries, as opposed to
the EU, prefer interests and rights of their own citizens and, regarding
the topoi of burden sharing and rules, stress that the need for voluntari-
89 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/prime-minister-mateusz-morawiec-
ki-our-goal-is-a-thorough-modernisation-of-poland.html (23.09.2018).
90 https://www.premier.gov.pl/en/news/news/meeting-on-the-deepening-eu-mig-
rant-crisis-prime-minister-ewa-kopacz-polands-stance-should.html (23.09.2018).
65
M. Votoupalová, Construction of Solidarity: Czech and Polish Approach to Refugees…
ness and non-binding nature in case their sovereignty may be restricted
(however, this seems to be a problem in the case of quotas but not re-
garding external border controls where even more EU involvement is
required).
This balancing of solidarity as a value with national interests and focus
on security seems to be in line with the theoretical conceptualisation of
international solidarity. Indeed, scholars emphasise that solidarity in in-
ternational relations cannot be expected to be entirely sel ess. Simultane-
ously, they stress that even pursuing its own interests does not need to be
in clash with solidarity. Indeed, as the analysis shows, the disagreement
is linked almost exclusively to relocations and both Poland and the Czech
Republic explicitly declare their willingness to participate in a common
EU solution. Now, with the quota system seemingly being obsolete, there
might be a new light at the end of the tunnel for a common EU refugee
policy.
Tab. 3. Topoi – comparison
Topos Agreement Czech and Polish speci cs
Burden
sharing Controlling external EU border;
sending nancial help to third
countries
Emphasis on voluntariness
Rules Focus on following common EU
rules State sovereignty cannot be
undermined
Security The EU and its member states
must protect the external borders,
prevent irregular migration and
ght against smugglers
Security of Polish/Czech
citizens prioritised
Human
rights The EU and its member states
must protect human rights of
refugees
Protection of citizens
prioritised; culturally close
refugees preferred to Muslims;
economic migrants explicitly
excluded from protection
Source: Author's own.
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