Belarus denies ill treatment of Polish minorities

Warsaw - Belarus has not abused the rights of Polish minorities, Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said during a visit to the Polish capital Friday, as tensions grew over a dispute involving Polish community leaders in Belarus. Belarus officials Monday searched the offices of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB) in Ivyanets and detained seven of its activists, the Polish Press Agency PAP reported.

Minsk does not recognize the head of ZPB, Angelica Boris, and de-registered the organization when she was elected four years ago to head the nonprofit, which promotes Polish culture.

Martynov, speaking at press conference in Warsaw, said the dispute came from a "misunderstanding between two factions" in the organization, and that the Belarus government would not get involved.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski appealed to Belarus to create conditions that would allow "democratically elected Polish representatives" to operate legally in the country.

In separate comments, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called the "repression" of Poles in Belarus "scandalous," PAP reported. Tusk said improved Polish-Belarus relations depended on better treatment of Polish minorities.

"If you want better relations, if you want to be closer to Europe, if you want to have a better opinion in the world, then you should meet these conditions," PAP quoted Tusk as saying.



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