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Polish minister says Syrians can return to fight and 'liberate' homeland

Monday, November 16, 2015

afp.com / ANP / Bas Czerwinski

The hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees pouring into Europe can be trained to form an army and return to "liberate" their homeland, Poland's new foreign minister said on Sunday.

Witold Waszczykowski also told public television that the refugees could be gainfully employed in this manner rather than sipping coffee on an iconic Berlin avenue or other European cities.

"Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have come to Europe recently. We can help them form an army," he said.

"Tens of thousands of young men disembark from their rubber dinghies with iPad in hand and instead of asking for drink or food, they ask where they can charge their cellphones.

"They can go to fight to liberate their country with our help," said the minister, who takes office on Monday.

Waszczykowski said he was trying to avoid a situation where "we send our soldiers to fight in Syria while hundreds of thousands of Syrians drink their coffee in (Berlin's) Unter den Linden" boulevard or in other European cities.

Germany has to date maintained an open-door policy for Syrians escaping their country's bloodshed, giving them "primary protection" -- the highest status for refugees.

Poland's incoming European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski said Saturday that Warsaw no longer considered an EU plan to redistribute refugees across Europe as a "political possibility" in light of the Paris attacks that left at least 129 people dead.

The programme -- long criticised by the EU's eastern-most members -- has come under fresh criticism after officials said a Syrian passport found at the scene of one of the attacks belonged to an asylum seeker who registered on a Greek island in October.

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