An official from Poland’s Interior Ministry said a border police force is preparing to use a water cannon to push back “hostile” migrants trying to enter the country by crossing the border into the European Union, Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported Friday.
The water cannon, which can break windows, is being prepared on a standby basis and would be fired if needed, the official told the newspaper. The official declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
While Western European countries worry about the potential for chaotic scenes on their borders as refugee and migrant flows overwhelm Europe, Eastern European countries such as Poland, Slovakia and Hungary have been reluctant to take in refugees and migrants.
The senior Interior Ministry official told Rzeczpospolita that Poland will not use force.
“Force will be used, but we will only use water cannon to back the interior (police) units,” the official said.
“Those who try to come in are abusing the law by damaging state property, endangering lives and throwing rocks. The force will be used so that they don’t even have time to leave the damaged property and stay nearby.”
Croatia, Austria also prepare force
Earlier this week, a second water cannon was sent to Croatia’s border with Serbia as Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic ordered that 700 police be sent to the region’s border to act on his decision to send police to the area earlier this week.
Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia already have border police as well as rapid reaction units to deal with any influx of migrants coming from the Middle East and Africa.
The most recent borders clash has occurred along Croatia’s border with Serbia, where two people suffered serious injuries after several migrants threw rocks at vehicles driving through the area.
Separately, Austria has completed training its border police units to respond with batons and other forms of force, CNN has learned. The Austrian border security forces are the first to receive training in the new capability, an Austrian official told CNN.
The hope is that their response would deter individuals from throwing stones or other objects at roadways or vehicles, the official said.
Refugees — refugees
As a bloc, EU member states have so far found themselves unable to agree on how to handle the flow of migrants coming to Europe.
Some European countries have promised to do more to let in more refugees. Others, notably Hungary, are trying to keep them out.
Hungary refuses to accept any more refugees. Earlier this month, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said he had sent 500 armed troops to its border to stop illegal migration, including more than 50 tanks, and then discussed proposals to send extra troops to his country.
He had said he would spend more than half a billion euros ($596 million) and “create facilities that are not in the current EU rules,” adding that “humanitarian corridors” would be opened for those wanting to seek asylum.
Czech Republic, Bulgaria strongly reject it.