Sikorski: Poland supports a free Belarus

Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has announced the importance of Belarus respecting minority rights for the eastern country's relations with the European Union.

Sikorski's statements follow a meeting with the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Siarhiej Martynau, who was in Warsaw to discuss recent issue in Polish-Belarusian relations and the treatment of the Polish minority group in the country.

The Foreign Minister stated, at a joint press conference with his Belarusian counterpart, that Poland will support Belarus in its drive for political independence and diversification. Sikorski added, however, that this support will only come in Belarus respects the rights and values of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"Poland is particularly sensitive on this point, especially in terms of how our minority groups are treated," stated Sikorski.

Meanwhile, Polish Radio reports that Belarusian militia have detained the deputy head of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Mieczyslaw Jaskiewicz. Belarusian authorities allege that Jaskiewicz's drivers license is false.

Igor Bancer, spokesperson for the Union of Poles in Belarus - unrecognized by the government - says that police are holding Jaskiewicz in a Grodno, near the Polish border, to verify his documents.

Yesterday, militia in Grodno cited Jaskiewicz, Angelika Borys (head of the Union), Igor Bancer and Andrzej Poczobut for holding an illegal demonstration.

Repression against the Polish minority in Belarus has escalated in recent weeks. On Monday, militia stormed and seized the Polish House in Iwieniec.


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