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President of Poland calls for Church leaders’ help for UK Eastern European communities

09 September 2016

PA

Speaking out: Poland’s Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski (right) and Interior Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak (centre) at a press conference at the Polish Embassy in London

Speaking out: Poland’s Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski (right) and Interior Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak (centre) at a press conference at the P...

THE President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to make a “constructive effort” to support the Polish community in the UK, after a spike in racially motivated attacks against Eastern Europeans in the wake of the EU referendum vote.

Two Polish men suffered minor injuries on Sunday, after they were attacked by a group of men in Harlow, Essex. It came hours after a vigil was held in the same town to remember Arkadiusz Jozwik, also Polish, who died last week from head injuries, after being beaten in Kitson Way, Harlow. Six teenagers have been arrested in connection with the death.

In a letter, published on the presidential website, addressed to Archbishop Welby and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President Duda asked church communities to “alleviate the adverse consequences of intolerance and xenophobia, including what appears to be a clear instance of aversion and animosity toward Poles”.

“Only through mutual understanding and care for the fellow man can we rebuild a thriving and well-developing society,” he wrote.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace confirmed that the letter had been received on Wednesday, and that “the Archbishop will, of course, respond in due course”.

The Polish Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, and Interior Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, made an “urgent visit” to London on Monday to discuss the attacks. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, are reported to have assured the ministers in a private meeting that protection for the Polish community in the UK would be increased.

In a press conference afterwards, Mr Waszczykowski, said: “Over the decades, the significant Polish population in the UK had experienced no problems, no harm. A few months ago, on the side-lines of the campaign leading up to the Brexit decision and after the referendum, incidents against Poles have begun to occur.”

It came as the Polish Deputy Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said that the country could be “a good friend” and an intermediary to the UK in Brexit talks. But the rights of Poles currently living and working in the UK to remain should not be questioned, he said.

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