Former ambassador of Poland to Belarus comments on Lukashenka’s invitation to Poland

Belarus’ reaction to the story of Bury and events in the Podlasie in 1945 are propaganda, former ambassador of Poland to Belarus Leszek Szerepka believes. In an interview with Belsat, diplomat shared his opinion as to whether the head of Belarus wants to score points in a conversation with Putin or change the vector of Belarus’ development. He also speculates whether Alyaksandr Lukashenka will travel to Poland for a meeting dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.

All the presidents of the Eastern Partnership have been invited to Warsaw, except Putin, which is also very symbolic. What can we read between the lines of these dry diplomatic texts? How should invitation of Lukashenka to Warsaw be interpreted?

I think this is a step towards the normalization of relations. It is also interesting that this is connected with historical politics, because in this area we have always had and still have enormous problems with Belarus. Because Belarus in this regard is even more Soviet than Russia.

Why do you think so?

Not so long ago, it became known that textbooks for the 11th grade of Belarusian secondary schools claim that it is difficult to determine who the executed people in Katyn. The author failed to notice that President Gorbachev and Yeltsin transfered related documents.

Let’s go back to the invitation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka: his first and only visit to Poland was in 1995, when Lukashenka traveled to Auschwitz. It was also a historic event. Should we now hope that at a time when relations between Belarus and Russia are rather complicated, Alyaksandr Lukashenka will nevertheless go to Warsaw?

If we are talking about September 1, it is possible. But I think that there is a trick here. At the same time, there appeared information that they did not invite the president of Russia. I think that this doesn’t really profit Lukashenka. I think that he would not want to conflict in this sense with Russia. Here you can expect that he will find some excuse to refuse.

Nevertheless, we see that relations between Belarus and Poland are more intensive now. Not so long ago, former Prime Minister of Belarus and now the chairman of the Council of Republic Myasnikovich came to Poland. He also visited places of historical memory. Does this mean that Belarus is somehow extending the hand towards Warsaw and will try to solve all the problems and issues?

I hope so. When I was the ambassador, I always tried to start this dialogue. We even thought about making a group of historians on both sides. It even began its work, but I do not know about now. Although it is clear that there is no progress.

As I said, Belarus has a Soviet discourse when it comes to history. When we look at what happened recently with Bury and pacification activities in Podlasie in 1945, we see that this reaction is propaganda. Because we know about many cases when Soviet partisans killed civilians, they also killed Polish partisans in Belarus. If Belarus is so principled, it should also speak about this, but I think that this will not happen.

Do you think Poland does everything it needs to? How important is it important for Poland to warm its relations with its close neighbor?

I think Poland does a lot. I am afraid that the politicians who work with this do not understand with whom they are dealing with and how the Belarusian regime operates. There was an attempt by Sikorski (Radoslaw Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland 2007-2014) to establish a dialogue, it ended as it did. Lukashenka views all ties with the West in context with his relations with Russia. For him, this is only an attempt to score points in a conversation with Putin and not to change the vector of Belarus’ development. Unfortunately, it is what it is.

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