USA and Poland are Belarus’ key allies
17:17, — Politics
A discussion about the situation of Belarus was held within the dialog in support of democracy between the U.S. and Poland.
The third round of the Polish-American dialog in support of democracy took place on February 28 in Warsaw. Promotion of the democratic values in Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and Middle East became its main topic.
The Polish delegation was headed by vice foreign minister Jerzy Pomianowski. During the meeting, he emphasized the role and the consequences of the current Polish-American cooperation.
“The strategic dialog is the basis of our relations, and each time it has a specific effect regarding Poland’s key partners, both close neighbors and more remote countries who face certain problems during democratic transformations,” the vice foreign minister of Poland said.
Head of the American delegation and Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies to Secretary of State Tomicah Tillemann pointed out how important Poland is for the U.S. in terms of the strategic partnership for democratic development.
“Poland took the role of the leader of the democratic development in that region. Poland gives other countries an opportunity to use its experience of more than 20-year long transformation,” Tillemann said.
A discussion on the situation of Belarus was held within the Polish-American dialog. Head of the Belarusian analytical think tank Andrei Vardomatsky, representative of the Polish Stefan Batory Foundation Lukasz Byrski and editor-in-chief of the website charter97.org Natallia Radzina all delivered their speeches.
Andrei Vardomatsky called the today’s Belarus “Jurassic park”:
“The contemporary situation in Belarus can be split into four blocks: socio-psychological, economical, geopolitical and media.
The high qualification of the society is a vital trait of the Belarusian nation. Its roots lie in the soviet past when Belarus was the final link of the nation-wide assembly site, and any final link should be highly professional. This partially explains the low social activity: the people are always occupied with their professional fulfillment.
As for the current socio-psychological aspect, the most typical trait is the high level of fear and no possibility to be socially active on an individual level.
As for the economic aspect, individual survival is the most crucial motive here. At the same time, the feeling that the second wave of the crisis is unavoidable is very common among the people. It is getting more typical for Belarus to develop a “parallel society” where the state lives its own life, while the people have a life of their own.
The key geopolitical aspect is the mass emigration to Russia, which is basically work emigration. However, the society realizes that new technologies come from the West and not from Russia.
As for the mass information, the need of a diversity of viewpoints is becoming urgent. Obviously, the viewpoint proposed by the official media is not enough anymore,” the social scientist said.
Representative of the Polish Stefan Batory Foundation Lukasz Byrski told about his experience of working with the Belarusian civil society:
“The foundations that work with Belarus face certain problems. One of them is whether they should work with all NGOs or only with the new ones that have only recently emerged. We shouldn’t forget that many Belarusian NGOs had to get a Polish registration. I ask myself why this is happening. They should apply to the Polish powers in order to do something for their own country. In Belarus, they are either barred to be active, or simply lose the registration.
Today in Poland Belarusian organizations are broadly presented, but their number can increase after the 2015 elections.
Another question is how the EU countries should cooperate with the Belarusian powers. The information that they report is used to intimidate and prosecute democratic activists. This has even happened here, in Poland, to Ales Bialatski who was convicted to 4,5 years in prison. And here we have another question, how should we work with the banks that are obliged to gather personal data by the law. Are these data safe? There are examples of data leakage.”
Natallia Radzina began her speech with telling how she had fled from Belarus to Russia after prison, about the American politicians and public figures – Bruce Jackson, Thomas Melia and David Cramer – who had helped her to escape to the secure Europe. When the journalist finally got asylum in the EU, significant help to the site charter97.org came from Poland: from foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, vice-minister Jerzy Pomianowski, president of the Foundation of international solidarity Krzysztof Stanowski, his deputy Martin Wojciechowski, heads of the foundation Freedom and Democracy Tomasz Pisula and Marek Butka and others.
“So I know from my own experience that the United States of America and Poland are the two countries that can help Belarus.”
Lukashenka’s regime has never been as weak, economically and politically, as it is today. The dictator is not popular. Lukashenka manages to keep the power only with mass repressions. If today the West resumes the meaningless trade with Lukashenka’s dictatorship, the Belarusians will lose their unique chance to become free again.
The West should keep to its firm position and principles. We need political and economic sanctions. We need a correct and wise approach to the Belarusian situation. We need help for the opposition and civil society. We need investments into modern mass media, to provide the Belarusian people with free information.
However, the sanctions of the EU are not real enough. The trade volumes between the EU and the dictatorship have doubled for the past two years. And the most important thing is that the help that the Belarusian civil society and opposition get is very little.
The problem is that the EU and U.S. lack a clear strategy regarding Belarus. There was the “concept of stability” according to which the EU should be circled by stable countries. Neighboring dictatorships in Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Serbia, Belarus, and Algeria got support. The concept was false.
Any support for dictators is meaningless. They will anyways be deposed by the people, and then, if actual investments into the democratic forces of these countries had not been made, the situation will become very unstable.
The current unstable situation in the Mediterranean, the failure of the ”Orange revolution” in Ukraine, the revanchism in Russia, the aggressive dictatorship in Belarus – these are all the results of the wrong moves by the West. Dictators earn billions from their trade with the West, while democratic movements have to survive on their own.
For some time ago the U.S. helped Poland to become free from the communist dictatorship by demonstrating solidarity and taking the side of the people, not the dictator governments. You are our key partners who have experience of actually supporting democracies. You need no explanation as to what should be done in Belarus. You can really help change the situation in our country,” Natallia Radzina pointed out.
The Polish-American strategic dialog in support of democracy was initiated by Poland’s minister of foreign affairs Radoslaw Sokirski and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2011. Prevously two rounds of meetings have been held, on March 22, 2011 in Warsaw and on May 8, 2012 in Washington.
Poland and the U.S. have been working together to promote democracy within the Community of Democracies since 2000.
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