15 June 2021, Tuesday, 16:21
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Jacek Protasiewicz: All promises made by Belarusian authorities not fulfilled

The Chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Belarus states that actions of authorities towards the Belarusian Poles contradict Belarus’ international commitments.

According to Jacek Protasiewicz, Chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Belarus, as the conflict around the activities of the independent Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB) hasn’t been resolved at the bilateral basis, it should be discussed at the European level. In an interview to Deutsche Welle, Protasiewicz underlined that pressure on the UPB activists contradicts international commitments undertaken by Belarus as the OSCE member, and as a country which wants to cooperate with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

- How could the situation of the Polish ethnical minority in Belarus be evaluated, and in particular, the situation with the Union of Poles n Belarus?

- The Polish minority in Belarus, the most organised national association, is under a constant pressure from the administration of Alyaksandr Lukashenka for more then 4 years. The administration would like to control the Union of Poles in Belarus, the organisation which unites mostly active citizens, and by controlling it, impose leadership and the style of its work to it.

This contradicts not only the legal provisions of the Belarusian law, but the international commitments of Belarus undertaken by the OSCE member countries and countries which wish to cooperate with the European Union within the Eastern Partnership program.

All international standards suppose respect to decisions by members of national minority organisations, such as the Union of Poles in Belarus, and in particular, respect to independent election of their leadership.

- What are the reasons of the UPB problems?

- Belarusian authorities do not want to admit the fact that Andzelika Borys has been elected democratically as the UPB leader for two times already, and by political and administrative methods are trying to impose such leaders of this organisation who are advantageous for the government, and notably some of them cannot event speak Polish.

- Last week a group of the MEPs addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe with a proposal to give evaluation to the actions of Belarusian authorities in Ivyanets, where an attempt to get control over the local branch of the UPB had been made. Why have this issue been taken up for the European level?

- For more than 4 years Polish authorities have been trying to persuade the acting Belarusian authorities that problems of independence in the work of the Polish national minority in Belarus should be regulates in the spirit of partnership between the two states. But all the promises made by Belarusian authorities haven’t been fulfilled unfortunately.

In this connection the Foreign Ministry of Poland after consultations with Polish representatives in the European parliament stated that as long Belarus wants to cooperate with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, the problem in relations of Minsk to the Union of Poles in Belarus should be also discussed at the European level as well.

And it is so not because it is the Union of Poles in Belarus, but because it is an independent and the largest NGO of a national minority in the country, which is under Belarusian legislation and in line with all international norms is to have a right for freedom of actions in its decisions. Moreover, when the matter concerns democratically elected leadership.

As Poland hasn’t succeeded to make Belarus respct this important fundamental norm at the bilateral basis, the Polish side would seek that at the level of the relations between Belarus and the European Union.

We remind that recently the pressure on the Union of Poles in Belarus has been increased. On January 21 mass arrests of activists of the non-recognized Union of Poles in Belarus took place. 43 activists who were on their way to Ivyanets (Minsk region) were detained. They wanted to support the head of the local branch of the Union Tereza Sobal, who undergoes pressure by the authorities.