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Home Uncategorised Belarus protests: Why Poland is backing the opposition - BBC News

Belarus protests: Why Poland is backing the opposition – BBC News

By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw


picture copyrightGetty Photographs

picture captionPolish Excessive Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met Belarus’s exiled opposition chief on Wednesday

Poland is one in all the predominant worldwide areas pushing the EU to cling motion in opposition to the authoritarian government in Belarus, after a disputed presidential election triggered enormous boulevard protests and a crackdown on the opposition.

Polish Excessive Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has described recent occasions in the neighbouring nation as a “breakthrough”.

“Belarusians beget now not fully broken thru their very maintain wretchedness, nonetheless they’ve shown the total of Europe that they are looking out to belong to a Europe of free, democratic, countries below the rule of law,” he prompt Polish Radio on Wednesday.

He spoke earlier than a meeting in Warsaw with the chief of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has been pressured into exile in Lithuania.

How Poland is backing the opposition

Warsaw is supporting Belarusian opposition requires for a novel and easy election and has known as for the liberate of all political prisoners.

Veronika Tsepkalo, one in all three girls people who joined forces in the election in opposition to lengthy-time chief Alexander Lukashenko, has attributable to this truth found exile in Poland. So too has opposition activist Olga Kovalkova.

And Polish hospitals are treating Belarusian activists who beget been injured or tortured by the authorities in Minsk.

The Polish government has additionally introduced a 50m zloty (£10.2m; €11.2m) serve package to serve the Belarusian of us method to Poland to work or gaze.

For years, the Polish thunder has been financially supporting self sufficient Belarusian-staffed media principally based mostly absolutely principally in Poland broadcasting to Belarusians, equal to Radio Racja and Belsat TV.

The dinky Belarusian editorial group of Nexta TV that broadcasts consumer-generated declare from its two million subscribers on YouTube and Telegram will probably be principally based mostly absolutely principally in Warsaw.

Centuries of shared historical past

The motive that Poland is so drawn to what’s occurring on in Belarus is not absolutely geographic. Poland’s 400km (248-mile) lengthy frontier with Belarus varieties part of the EU’s jap exterior border. It is lower than 200km from Warsaw.

Of route, the two nations portion centuries of historical past that beget left a considerable Polish minority in Belarus and a smaller Belarusian group in Poland. That group in Poland is increasing, attributable to rising numbers of Belarusians searching for work.

picture copyrightGetty Photographs

picture captionPoland shares an prolonged border – and centuries of historical past – with its neighbour Belarus

A lot of 19th Century writers, alongside with Jan Czeczot and Wincenty Dunin-Marcinkiewicz, wrote each in Polish and Belarusian.

“We had been citizens of the identical federal thunder, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, for better than four hundred years, one in every of whose languages modified into Belarusian,” MEP Radoslaw Sikorski prompt me.

As Poland’s international locations minister, he co-authored the EU’s Jap Partnership programme designed to toughen the bloc’s family with six jap European nations, alongside with Belarus.

“It be fully natural for Poland to cling an ardour in Belarus and there is settlement on this one day of the political spectrum,” he mentioned.

However is its recognition tarnished?

After Poland’s Crew spirit circulation toppled the communist regime in 1989, Warsaw archaic its credibility as a nation that had gone through a successful transition to current a lift to democratic alternate in Ukraine and Belarus.

And, after Poland joined the EU in 2004, it additionally sought to affect the bloc’s protection in the route of the distance.

media captionWhat lies in the encourage of the Belarus protests?

However, in conserving with Prof Agnieszka Bienczyk-Missala from Warsaw School, Poland’s credibility with the Belarusian opposition modified into tarnished in 2016.

This modified into when Mr Morawiecki, who modified into then deputy prime minister, met Belarus’s authoritarian chief in Minsk to are attempting to toughen monetary family between the two neighbours.

“Poland made a mistake adopting a coverage of debate with Lukashenko that modified into partly a reaction to the annexation of Crimea by Russia,” Prof Bienczyk-Missala mentioned. “I judge this resulted in Poland being unable to place end links with the Belarusian opposition and Lithuania modified into ready to enact so”.

She provides that Poland’s credibility has been tarnished additional attributable to its keep issues with the rule of regulation.

picture copyrightGetty Photographs

picture captionOf us present their toughen for Belarus’s exiled opposition chief in Warsaw

The European Cost and heaps different world organisations beget criticised the governing Laws and Justice (PiS) coalition’s changes to Poland’s judicial system over the previous 5 years, asserting they undermine its independence.

The Polish presidential pace-off in July that seen PiS ally Andrzej Duda re-elected modified into efficiently pace, the OSCE’s Topic of job for Democratic Establishments and Human Rights mentioned, nonetheless biased protection by the public broadcaster in toughen of Mr Duda tarnished the election.

“Will we beget the lawful authority in criticising one other nation’s election?” Mr Sikorski mentioned.

“We archaic to be a democratic mecca and now we’re being pilloried for breaches of the rule of law,” he added. “We now beget squandered a couple of of the political capital we archaic to beget.”

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