Poland at crossroads with Belarus

'We are standing at a crossroads,' said foreign affairs official Jaroslaw Bratkiewicz about Poland's current policy towards Belarus.

Reporting on the present situation in the neighbouring country following the recent repressions against the local Polish community, the head of the Ministry's eastern department has stressed that the next step is up to authorities in Belarus.

Talking to the senatorial committee for the affairs of the Polish communities abroad, Bratkiewicz said it was the Belarusian authorities that had to resolve whether they would allow for a pluralistic activity of minority organizations. Otherwise, Poland will have to take action that would have a negative impact on the relations of Belarus with the Western world.

Maciej Szymanski, heading the Ministry's Department of Cooperation with the Polish Diaspora, has assured the senators that Poland is ready to take steps, which they would rather, nonetheless, avoid.

"They received a list of issues in which Poland had, so far, voluntarily supported Belarus. Our country was its promoter on the political arena in Europe. And now Poland may either choose to refrain from continuing these efforts, to hinder or even torpedo them. The decision is up to Belarus, as none of these initiatives were unconditionally guaranteed to the country," said Szymanski.

A court trial concerning the Polish House in Ivyenets continues today. Members of the Union of Poles in Belarus, unrecognized by Lukashenko's regime, have been recently expelled from the facility. The outcome of the trial will show which route the Belarusian authorities have chosen to pursue, said Maciej Szymanski.

The President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek said yesterday that, in his view, EU's parliament should adopt a resolution on the issue.

"To us, it is very significant that the European Union acknowledges the repression against national minorities, predominantly the Polish one at this moment, but also other groups, such as non-governmental organizations or the democratic opposition, so that the European Union declares them impermissible," stated Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Meanwhile, 37 out of 40 Polish activists who were detained in Belarus on Monday have been freed.


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