Poland behind compromise with Belarus

At a meeting of foreign ministers, Monday, Poland joined the majority of EU states supporting the suspension of restrictions imposed on Belarus 12 years ago (photo:

"We don't see any reasons to retighten our policies towards Belarus," said Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

Poland welcomed elections for president of the Union of Poles in Belarus at the weekend in Grodno, western Belarus, the first time such a meeting was allowed to go ahead for four years.

Minister Sikorski expressed hope that the prolonged suspension of sanctions - which included imposing travel restrictions on politicians from Belarus - will find favour among other EU countries, including Holland, which has doubts about the new, milder policy toward Belarus. "I will argue in favour of this direction," Sikorski declared.

The head of Polish diplomacy explained that the aim of the new EU policy towards Belarus should be, on the one hand, to guarantee the observance of the rights of national minorities, such as Poles - who make up around five percent of the population - and on the other hand, offering "the perspective of closer relations" between the country and the EU.

The majority of EU states have a similar stance to the one presented by Poland, although diplomats admit that the thaw in European-Belarusian relations, which started in October last year following relatively free electrons there, has not yet yielded as many positive results as was initially hoped.

The EU has yet to decide whether to offer an invitation to President Lukashenko - described once by Condoleezza Rice as the 'last dictator in Europe' - to May's summit in Brussels on the Eastern Partnership programme. (pg/jm)



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