Poland says it may tighten Slovak border controls to stop migrants

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland is close to taking a decision on tightening controls on the border with Slovakia, a government spokesperson was quoted as saying on Monday by state-run news agency PAP, in measures to stem the flow of immigrants.

The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has made migration a central issue in its campaign to win a third term in office in Oct. 15 elections, and it has included questions on the topic in a referendum which will run alongside the vote.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has been struggling with a surge in illegal migrants. The number of illegal migrants detained in Slovakia has increased nine-fold from a year ago to more than 27,000 so far this year, according to the country’s interior ministry.

“We have to decide whether to take additional protection measures on the Polish-Slovak border… we are also analysing what the potential direction of immigration from (the Italian island of) Lampedusa may look like,” government spokesperson Piotr Muller was quoted by the agency as telling private broadcaster Polsat News.

“We are considering tightening control in this area and taking steps to secure these routes.”

A spokesperson for the Slovak foreign ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Muller said that the government does not rule out also strengthening controls on the border with Germany.

However, he added that no decision had been made and that Poland would act after consulting with its partners.

“We do not want to surprise them with this decision, but we do not make this decision dependent on the consent of another country,” he said.

“We are close to making such a decision, but we still want a declaration from Slovakia, clarity as to whether they will take their own actions, but we will most likely move in this direction,” he added.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)