Visit of Belarusian Foreign Minister to Warsaw May be Cancelled
Law and Justice, Poland’ largest opposition party led by the twin brother of the Polish president, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has demanded canceling Belarusian Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynaw’s scheduled visit to Warsaw over the scandal caused by the police seizure of the Polish House in the small Belarusian city of Ivyanets.
In addition, Grazyna Gesicka, head of the party’s group in the Sejm, suggested at a news conference in Warsaw on Tuesday that Prime Minister Donald Tusk should ask the European Union to impose a trade embargo on Belarus.
However, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that he was not going to initiate the cancellation of Mr. Martynaw’s visit. It is necessary to talk to Belarus and not to isolate it, he said, according to Polskie Radio.
The minister said the previous day that he was planning to have a tough conversation with his Belarusian counterpart, who was expected to visit Warsaw on February 12.
International institutions should look at the Belarusian authorities’ policy regarding the Polish minority in the country, Mr. Sikorski said. "We want others, apart from the Polish authorities, to highlight how much Belarus may lose if it decides to isolate itself once again," the minister said. "We can’t forbid Belarus to do this, but respect for the rights of national minorities and the rights of the opposition is the main condition for closer ties with the European Union."
The Belarusian foreign ministry would not comment on the developments. A spokesperson for the ministry, Maryya Vanshyna, refused to tell BelaPAN when Minister Martynaw’s visit to Poland would take place. "We’ll report this in due time," she said.
Police took control of the Polish House in Ivyanets, a small city some 30 miles west of Minsk, in a surprise raid on February 8.
Some 20 policemen and court officers arrived at the House in the afternoon and ordered everyone out, producing a warrant saying that the management of the House had illegally taken possession of property, the manager of the House, Teresa Sobol (Sobal), who sides with the Warsaw-backed unofficial Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB), told BelaPAN.
According to her, after she and other UPB members went out, police blocked entrances to the building and court officers staying inside started taking an inventory of the contents of rooms.
The police and court officers entered the building during a lunch break and changed the locks, taking advantage of the absence of UPB activists, Ms. Sobol noted.
The Polish foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to Belarus, Henryk Litwin, for consultations in connection with the incident.
On Monday, the ministry summoned Belarusian Ambassador Viktar Haysyonak to express its serous concern about the police raid.