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Oct 18, 2020
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Where has Belarus gone from Poland’s foreign policy agenda?

The sequence of events of 2010 repeats itself

On October 12, the ministers of foreign affairs of the EU member states met in Brussels. There was a preliminary agreement that they would expand the sanctions list against Belarus and include Alexander Lukashenko in it. As Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said, the EU's "bowl of bitterness" is overflowing; these words were widely spread by the Polish media. And suddenly ... Belarus began to recede into the background of Polish politicians.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Dan Joana at the opening of the Solidarity Monument.  Source: Mircea Dan Joana's official Twitter page

Mateusz Morawiecki in Brussels. premier.gov.pl

On October 1-2, a meeting of the European Council of the EU was held in Brussels, at which Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki proposed a plan, snobbishly called "the Marshall plan for Belarus." Morawiecki's European Council supported and instructed the European Commission to work on the details. The main provisions of the Polish plan were reduced to the provision of loans, assistance to Belarusian enterprises in trade with the EU, investments in the infrastructure of the Republic of Belarus and a visa-free regime. Everything looked hazy, blurry and vague. And most importantly, the "Marshal Plan" was to be launched only when Lukashenka left.

Upon Moravetsky's return from Brussels, the Polish press wrote a lot about the triumph of diplomacy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, about the fact that Belarus had reached a "turning point" that would give it a chance for a better future. Along the way, Morawiecki turned into a man who challenged Putin through the efforts of Polish journalists.

However, several days passed, and “the man who changed the history of Belarus” (as Moravetsky was presented to the public), suddenly began to forget about Belarus. October 9 in conversation with the correspondent of the Slovak newspaper Economic newspaper Moravetsky assured that "Poland will continue its efforts to resolve the crisis in this country on a permanent and long-term basis.", after which the word "Belarus" disappeared from the prime minister's lexicon.

On October 11, attending the congress "Poland - a great project", Morawiecki spoke about the growing strength of China, the need to strengthen NATO, the coronavirus, but not hoo-hoo about Belarus. Although in August and September he was completely, more than the president and the Foreign Ministry, immersed in Belarusian affairs.

The chairman of the Polish trade union “Solidarity” Pyotr Duda (the president’s namesake) was also active in the Belarusian direction in August-September: he flew to Minsk, received Tikhanovskaya in Warsaw, promised to prepare leaders who would raise Belarusian workers “to fight”. Then Pyotr Duda wilted and started talking about the fact that Western European trade unions should provide assistance to the “comrades from Belarus”. On October 1 in Plock, at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the creation of Polish Solidarity, Duda said, what "Will do everything to help Belarusian trade unionists fighting for a democratic homeland and democratic elections", on that and calmed down.

Piotr Duda at the anniversary of the Polish Solidarity in Plock.

Piotr Duda at the anniversary of the Polish Solidarity in Plock. polishnews.co.uk

Interest in Belarus in the Polish media has noticeably decreased, which he regrets director of the Belsat channel Agnieszka Romashevskaya. Previously, the Belarusian topic was constantly and in large numbers on TV news, but after the coup did not take place, Belarusian stories began to appear only occasionally. Tikhanovskaya also became much smaller; in August-September interviews with her were published several times a week, now you can find only short messages about her on the Internet.

Of course, someone, like the President of the Center for International Relations Malgorzata Bonikovskaya, still thinksthat the ground under Lukashenka's feet is burning and he is about to understand that it is time for him to leave. However, the popular Polish edition POLITICO Europe on October 10 issued an article "Five reasons why Lukashenka can stay in power." Among these reasons: the army and the Interior Ministry remain loyal to the president; the president retains control over the administrative apparatus; the workers do not want to go on strike; Moscow supports Minsk.

The fact that this article was published is astounding: before the publishers POLITICO they counted the days until the victory of Belarusian democracy and discussed how best to tear Belarus away from Russia.

The findings of the Polish Institute of International Affairs are very curious (PISM)which is a government agency. At the end of September PISM published the report "Belarus - Russia: towards gradual integration". The report says that Moscow will not agree to the direct accession of the republic, but will engage in deepening integration in the economic sphere. They say that Russian owners will buy up the most valuable assets of the Republic of Belarus, then supranational economic institutions will be created, and “in the distant future” permanent Russian military bases will appear on Belarusian territory. The Poles perceive this deeper integration of the two parts of a previously unified state as a threat and propose to counter it by imposing sanctions on enterprises that have passed into Russian ownership and feeding "civil society" with money. October 8 experts PISM again remembered their calculations and stated that "The scenario of a long-term deepening of integration within the Union State is becoming the most realistic"...

The Polish Institute of International Affairs also has a report on military cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. Its authors expect an increase in the Russian military presence in Belarus in the framework of almost continuous joint exercises. A high level of integration of the military of the two republics is noted: not separate, but mixed units of the armies of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus successfully operated at the exercises "Slavic Brotherhood - 2020". As a “countermeasure”, PISM advises demanding that Minsk comply with the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe and the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Dan Joana at the opening of the Solidarity Monument.  Source: Mircea Dan Joana's official Twitter page

Teachings "Slavic Brotherhood - 2020". belta.by

What is noteworthy: in just a little over a month, the Polish "think tank" has significantly changed its assessments of the prospects for the development of integration between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus and is now increasingly warning about "growing threats" to Poland.

In a sense, the sequence of events in 2010 is repeated. Then, on the eve of the presidential elections in Belarus, the foreign ministers of Germany and Poland Guido Westerwelle and Radoslaw Sikorski came to Minsk. They persuaded Lukashenka to hold "fair" elections and promised billions.

2010 year.  Guido Westerwelle (left) and Radoslaw Sikorski (right) with Alexander Lukashenko.  wyborcza.pl

2010 year. Guido Westerwelle (left) and Radoslaw Sikorski (right) with Alexander Lukashenko. Photo: wyborcza.pl

It's hard to believe: they wanted Lukashenka to give up power. He did not agree, won the elections, and then there was what we saw in recent months: protests, attempts to seize administrative buildings, scuffles with riot police, sanctions, recalling Western ambassadors "for consultations", a promise to give money to "democratic Belarus" ... Then everything calmed down.

For the third time, this noisy story should not be repeated.

Cover photo: REUTERS / David Cerny

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