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Friday, July 29, 2005

Just in case you missed it

These are the top 3 headlines right now on Radio Polonia's English language website:

The senate slams Belarus' anti-Polish policy

EC calls on Belarus to respect minority rights

Polish-Belarus relations in crisis

And the top audio file:

Poland and Belarus: from bad to worse

Well, it's not as if the country is at a standstill, but it sure seems to be all anybody can talk about. The dispute has finally found its way to Brussels, and the EU will become more deeply involved.

The problem is, nobody wants to touch Belarus with a ten-foot pole (pun intended) for fear of pissing off Russia. Brussels already has about 300 different headaches to worry about, and doesn't need another one. The Belarussians, for the most part, don't seem to really want change that much either. For these two groups, the Poles, once again, are stirring up trouble - as always.

The Poles, heady from the "victory" in Ukraine, are itching to really change things in a part of the world which is historically Polish. There are other motives too, of course. A democratic Belarus would probably be another ally in the fight against Russian dominance of energy resources in the region, it would be a buffer zone between Poland and Russia (Poles are always paranoid about being attacked by invaders. Can you blame them?), and it's a great market for Polish goods. Additionally, it's one more piece of the puzzle of Central and Eastern European countries that seem to be forming a bloc of which Poland sees itself as head. The Visegrad group comprises The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland - a population of about 60-65 million people total. Warsaw would like to see Ukraine, Belarus, and perhaps Lithuania added to the group eventually as well, making the CEE countries more than able to counterbalance those ninnies in Western Europe. Oh yeah, they're also pissed because ethnic Poles are being systematically denied their rights.

The EU can't help but get involved now, and that means that soon this spat is going to be on cable television news networks and websites and newspapers tomorrow morning, or the day after.

And then people will have to take sides.

It's all quite exciting. How is this going to end?


Blogger Gustav said...

Some background:


There are 400,000 Poles living in Belarus, of which 20,000 are members of a minority organization that has recently become a bone of contention between Alexander Lukashenko’s party and the Polish government. The conflict erupted when the Union of Poles in Belarus elected Andżelika Borys as its new head. Her main flaw? She is not Tadeusz Kruczkowski – the former, pro-Lukashenka leader of the Polish minority – such an independent nomination could not be taken lightly by Europe’s last dictator, especially in light of Polish support for uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
The headquarters of the Union in Grodno were closed for members, and those who continued to engage in the organization’s activities – such as a Polish folk concert – were arrested. A couple of days ago Belarusian militia knocked on Andżelika Borys’ doors in the middle of the night,and she only escaped imprisonment by refusing to let them in and warning that she would inform the international media. If there is one thing Lukashenka is worried by, it is more bad PR.
The arrests, Soviet-style lawsuits and finally the storming of the Union of Poles’ offices by Belarusian special forces seriously harmed diplomatic relations between Minsk and Warsaw. There were expulsions of diplomats on both sides and fierce demonstrations in front of the Belarusian embassy. In order to deal with the crisis, Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld summoned his ambassador from Minsk. Belarusian authorities accused Andżelika Borys of fraud. As the WBJ was going to press, the conflict remained unresolved.

7/29/2005 03:39:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

National Legal Internet Portal (press release), Belarus:

Foreign ministry: recall of ambassador of Poland shows that Poland is pursuing policy for exacerbating and suspending relations with Belarus

Today’s decision of the Polish authorities to recall their ambassador from Minsk shows that Poland is pursuing a policy aimed at exacerbating and suspending its relations with Belarus, official of the foreign ministry’s press service Maria Vanshina told BelTA.

Maria Vanshina underlined that the foreign ministry of Belarus drew attention to it in its statement of July 22, 2005. “The step undertaken by Poland demonstrates the lack of its intentions to seek for the way out of the crisis and work for strengthening good-neighbor relations”, Maria Vanshina stated.

At the same time she noted that the embassy of Belarus in Poland will continue strengthening mutual relations between the two countries.

7/29/2005 05:03:00 PM  

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