Poland criticized for rule of law, defends democracy in Belarus

The tone is rising dangerously, between Warsaw and Minsk, while the leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, is preparing to meet European foreign ministers on Monday, September 21, in Brussels. Ahead of this visit, Poland has just launched the idea of ​​a European stabilization fund for Belarus of at least 1 billion euros. The initiative responds almost symmetrically to the promise, a few days earlier, of Russian President Vladimir Putin to help the Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko to the tune of 1.2 billion euros.

Cascading voltages

Both the EU and Poland are calling for new presidential elections in Belarus. Warsaw, as a neighboring capital, would like to take the initiative on behalf of the Europeans, with a plan for the peaceful withdrawal of power, while the mobilization started on August 9 continues against Alexander Lukashenko, accused of having rigged the ballot. But without waiting for a position at 27, Polish President Andrzej Duda threatened Belarus with “National sanction”, Friday September 18, in a telephone conversation with his Lithuanian counterpart.

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The day before, Minsk had announced the closure of the borders with Poland and Lithuania, even if the latter remained open the following morning. The words had slipped anyway. Alexander Lukashenko called on the Lithuanians and Poles to “Stop their mad politicians and prevent war”, before asking the Kremlin for reinforcements.

Influence strategy

The European stabilization fund proposed by Poland would aim to anchor the Belarusian economy in the West, through investments in exporting companies in Europe. This “New Marshall plan”, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki takes it for granted, believing that it will be adopted at the end of the European Council of 24 and 25 September.

This role of great defender of the free world held by Warsaw, however, embarrasses Brussels, which this week has multiplied warnings against violations of the rule of law by the Polish government. The European Commission, which was to present an initiative to better sanction abuses on Wednesday 23 July, postponed its communication for a week.

Warsaw, for its part, fully assumes its strategy of influence in Belarus. For more than ten years, the Polish government has been financing the Bielsat television channel, which broadcasts from a distance and provides a series of direct reports on the mobilization against power in Minsk. On Thursday September 10, the opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was ostensibly received, with the honors usually reserved for heads of state, by the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.

Democratic values ​​held hostage

Alexander Lukashenko thunders as soon as he can against this support from Warsaw to “Sheep” of the opposition. He regularly suggests that land claims are behind it all. The border region of Grodno, in the northeast, was indeed an integral part of Poland between 1919 and 1939.

→ READ. In Belarus, the regime facing the street alone

Mateusz Morawiecki nevertheless refutes any suggestion of this kind with regard to his neighbor. On the other hand, he urges the EU to respond to “The call of the people of Belarus », whose citizens would be eager to feel « the presence of the European Union in their lives ».

This speech would not be a problem if the European Parliament did not come, Thursday, September 17, to vote a resolution (513 votes in favor, 148 against, 33 abstentions), to express its concern about the functioning of the legislative and electoral systems, the independence of justice, the protection of fundamental rights in Poland and of sexual minorities. In response to criticism, the government in Warsaw contented itself with turning the charge against Brussels. It’s about a “Attack on democracy by EU elites”, defended the Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro.

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