A majority of people in Poland approve of the government’s response to the crisis on the border with Belarus and most do not want those who cross to be allowed to claim asylum, a new poll has found. It follows earlier surveys that have shown similar results.
The new findings from pollster CBOS also show that two thirds of Poles fear that the crisis could lead to armed conflict. However, the lowest ever proportion recorded think that Poland can rely on its NATO allies to help defend its borders.
Asked by CBOS how they view the actions taken by the government at the border, 54% evaluated them positively and 34% negatively. An even higher proportion, 66%, support the idea of building a border wall, something the government has begun to do.
However, a large majority of the public disapprove of the current ban on the media and NGOs entering the area along the border. Almost three quarters (74%) think humanitarian groups should have access, while 71% think that journalists should. Only 20% and 21% respectively support banning them.
Meanwhile, 58% of the Polish public say that they do not want those crossing the border to be allowed to apply for asylum. Exactly one third believe that they should be allowed to do so.
The polling also found that 64% of people in Poland fear that the situation on the Belarus border may lead to armed conflict.
However, when asked if Poland can be sure that its NATO allies would help defend the country’s borders, just under half (49%) said that it could. That was 19 percentage points lower than in February 2020, and the lowest figure since CBOS began asking the question in 2014.
Over one third (36%) felt Poland cannot be sure of its allies’ support. That was 13 percentage points up since February 2020 and was the highest figure ever recorded.
Noting that the crisis on the border has been deliberately engineered by Belarus, Poland’s government has from the start said that it is part of a “hybrid attack” against the EU with Russian backing. NATO, the EU and the United States have adopted similar language.
Since the summer, tens of thousands of people – mainly from the Middle East – have tried to cross into Poland from Belarus, with the assistance of the Belarusian authorities.
In response, the government declared a state of emergency at the border that bans non-residents from entering the area. It has deployed thousands of soldiers to the frontier and erected barbed wire fencing along much of it.
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.