Polish FM says EU, Euro-Atlantic community have duty towards Belarus

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said on Wednesday that responsibility to support Belarusian civil society and put pressure on Minsk rests with the EU and the Euro-Atlantic community.

A discussion panel was organised on Wednesday by the Polish, Romanian and Lithuanian embassies in France as well as the EU Foreign Affairs Council. Participating in the discussion were Rau and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Dian, Lithuania's Gabrielius Landsbergis and Romania's Bogdan Aurescu as well as Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

A foreign ministry communique said the Polish foreign minister had spoken, among other issues, about defending the dignity of Belarusians during strikes.

"It means that the responsibility for supporting Belarusian civil society and maintaining pressure on the government in Minsk rests with the EU and Euro-Atlantic community," he was quoted as saying in the release.

The foreign ministry added that Minister Rau stated in his address that Warsaw and the Visegrad Group (comprising Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) had proposed the EU Economic Plan for a Democratic Belarus, which has gained the support of all 27 EU member states.

He said that what was begun this year in Belarus could not be halted or suppressed and that he believed a democratic Belarus and its heroic society would triumph.

The foreign ministry said in its communique that panel participants had discussed the conditions influencing events in Belarus and the possible scenarios for supporting Belarusian society.

Protests erupted in Belarus last year following the re-election of incumbent strongman President Alexander Lukashenko in a poll activists claim was rigged.