EU must take decisive action over Belarus - dep FM for The Independent

EU must take decisive action over Belarus - dep FM for The Independent Mateusz Marek/PAP

Poland and the EU need to react immediately to the developments in Belarus after the country's President Alexander Lukashenko repeatedly used brutal force against protesters, Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz wrote in the British daily The Independent.

"In the case of all authoritarian regimes, democratic protests are a matter of time. The only question remains: when will they happen? And how long will they last until they lead to the fall of the government? The fraudulent presidential elections triggered Belarussian society’s clear answer: it is now," Przydacz wrote in article published on Tuesday.

According to him, Poland has always strived to develop good relations with all its neighbours and, together with the European Union, has lifted sanctions and invested in contacts with the Belarusian administration to support political reforms and economic development of the country. However, despite numerous warnings, Lukashenko decided yet again to breach international electoral standards and use brutal force against peaceful demonstrators, which "has given us in the EU and in other democratic quarters no choice but to react immediately," Przydacz wrote.

In his opinion, Poland remains at the forefront of this reaction with another EUR 12 million Solidarity Plan for Belarus. "We want all Belarusians who fear persecution to know that Europe stands by them and will not leave them without support," Przydacz wrote.

As examples of Poland's concrete support for Belarus, he mentioned medical treatment, the establishment of the Belarusian House in Warsaw, a permanent and safe seat for Belarusian opposition, and at subsequent stages, support for persecuted Belarusians, granting scholarships, simplifying border crossing procedures, easier access to the Polish labour market, support for local NGOs, civil society, independent media outlets, as well as aid for Belarus's small and medium-sized enterprises that would like to move to Poland.

At the same time, Poland is mobilising its EU partners to take a more proactive approach towards the crisis in Belarus, Przydacz added. In his view, a programme for a future democratic Belarus should be developed, including a set of measures enabling a smooth transition to a fully-fledged free-market economy. He believes that if democratic changes occur in Belarus, Belarusians should feel that the EU offers them not only verbal but also real economic support.

The Polish deputy foreign minister noted that last week Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, with the backing of the leaders of the Visegrad Group (V4, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary) and the EU Council, announced the "Economic Plan for Democratic Belarus", which will soon be presented to EU partners. The document presents a set of economic measures which should complement ongoing projects implemented by the EU and other international organisations, Przydacz wrote. "We would like it to include, among other things, a comprehensive "stabilisation package", a special fund dedicated to SMEs, as well as investment in infrastructure and energy security, he concluded.