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EU sanctions against Belarus to be decided in June: Deputy FM

“The fourth package of EU sanctions against the Belarusian authorities will be related to repressions affecting the Polish community; final decisions should be expected during the June foreign affairs council,” the deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said during the Tuesday session of the Senate committee.

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The sanctions are the result of, inter alia, detentions of representatives of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB). At the beginning of March, Andżelika Borys, the head of ZPB was detained. First, she was sentenced for organizing an “illegal event,” which was the traditional Kaziuki Fair. She was subsequently prosecuted for allegedly “inciting national hatred” and “rehabilitating Nazism.” Andżelika Borys and three other activists of the ZPB – Andrzej Poczobut, Irena Biernacka and Maria Tiszkowska – face from 5 to 12 years in prison.

During the committee meeting, the deputy Foreign Minister emphasised that the intensification of actions by the Belarusian authorities towards Poles have been taking place since March this year. In this context, he pointed to the detention of five activists of the Polish minority, searches of organisational premises and private homes, massive controls in places where Polish language was taught, and attempts to intimidate.

According to the deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the actions of the Belarusian authorities are the result of Poland’s standing on the side of the democratisation of life in Belarus after the rigged presidential elections in 2020. In this context, he pointed to a significant reduction in the personnel of Polish diplomatic and consular posts, which was demanded by the Belarusian side.

Mr Szynkowski vel Sęk also recalled raising the topic of repressions against the Polish minority by the Belarusian authorities on the international arena. This issue was raised at the forum of the European Council, during the Foreign Ministers meeting and by President Andrzej Duda with representatives of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe and the UN.

“The prospect of the June foreign affairs council is the one in which final decisions and extensive discussions are to be expected,” the deputy Foreign Minister said. He also assured that Poland was engaged in dialogue with neighboring countries to jointly develop a model of reacting to the actions of the Belarusian regime.

Mr Szynkowski vel Sęk also mentioned the economic plan for Belarus, which was developed by Poland together with the countries of the Visegrad Group. This plan – approved by the European Council – is to be a positive offer for Belarusians in the current situation.

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