Big-name Belarusians appeal to Polish Prime Minister: “Support Belsat!”
Stanislau Shushkevich, the first head of independent Belarus, Ivonka Survilla, the current President of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR), the Belarusian government in exile, Aliaksandr Milinkevich, the leader of For Freedom movement, Uladzimir Niakliayeu, a Belarusian poet and the leader of Tell the Truth civil campaign, Anzhelika Borys, a former Head of the Union of Poles in Belarus subscribed their names to the appeal to Donald Tusk.
The signers expressed gratitude to the Polish government for backing the only independent Belarusian TV channel and reminded of the result of its five-year strenuous work: now Belsat TV can boast of a significant number of regular viewers and the platform created for free and uncensored discussion of political, economic and social issues.
“Belsat might be said to have become something more than a usual TV channel. It has turned into a pillar of the Belarisian language and the institution that provides substantive support to social and political life in Belarus. Under current difficult economic conditions in Europe and Poland we are deeply concerned over the fact that such a valuable and unprecedented initiative might be neglected. We know that Belsat TV that has been dynamically developing in Belarus for the last two years is simultaneously combating the problem of dire funding gap,” the appeal reads.
The authors of the letter stress that a steady reduction in the channel’s limited budget not only prevents Belsat from its further development but also puts at stake its very existence.
“It is the first time that the channel has failed to provide its normal operation within 12 months. At the end of November, 2012 Belsat had to [shorten its airtime] and suspend all live programs and a goodly proportion of its pieces of publicism. The situation may happen again next October [in 2013],” the authors point out.
There is an urgent need of EU institutions participation in the initiative. Belsat might well be supported by the government of Poland, the governments of Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and the Nordic Council of Ministers, but the European Union does not make any financial contributions.
“Nevertheless, we hope that both the prestige of Poland and your own authority steer them into joining in the initiative. The EU and Poland’s possibilities of affecting the current regime are limited … Such initiatives as Belsat TV allow to influence the situation without contacting the authorities, but due to the development of people’s consciousness: the national identity is being formed. It is the best thing that the neighbours could invest in the democratic future of Belarus.