Thursday, 08 September 2005

Activist Says EU Must Help Belarus's Polish Minority

8 Septembr 2005 -- A leader of Belarus's ethnic-Polish community urged the European Union today to put pressure on Belarus to stop violating the rights of ethnic Poles.

SPB chairwoman Andzhelika Borys, head of the Union of Poles, told a European Parliament committee that Belarusian authorities are cracking down on independent Polish organizations, leaving the country's small ethnic-Polish community few cultural outlets.

Borys told the European Parliament's committee for relations with Belarus that Poles are being portrayed as "enemies, as a threat to Belarus."

Belarus's relations with neighboring Poland have deteriorated as Warsaw pushes for democratic change in the former Soviet republic.

The government of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has put increasing pressure on the Polish minority. About 500,000 ethnic Poles live in western Belarus, near the Polish border.