Poland brands Belarus a ‘hostile’ state
Belarus must fulfill a list of Poland’s demands to mend relations with the country, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said on Saturday. The remarks came in response to a call for improving ties between the two nations, voiced by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Jablonski expressed skepticism over Lukashenko’s statements, suggesting the call made by the Belarusian leader was actually nothing but "empty talk."
"At the moment, as we are speaking, attacks on the Polish border are underway. This is empty words, once again we hear such statements, but there is no substance behind them," Jablonski told local media.
The deputy minister claimed Poland neither sought to have bad relations with Belarus, nor was the one behind their current state. If Belarus was actually "serious" about mending ties, the way to fix them was actually very "simple," the diplomat went on, rolling out a list of demands for Minsk to fulfill.
"Stop attacking our border, release Andrzej Poczobut and over a thousand political prisoners from jails," Jablonski said, referring to a Polish-Belarusian journalist and activist who was jailed early this year for eight years on extremism charges. Apart from that, Minsk should stop carrying out its allegedly ongoing "campaign of hatred, attacks, this hybrid war against Poland," the diplomat added.
Lukashenko expressed readiness to mend ties with the EU and Warsaw in particular on Friday, describing Poles as "our people, the Slavs," and not some "stupid" people. The president said that he understood that Poland has been merely acting on the US' behalf and "aggravating" the situation between the two countries.
The ever-complicated relations between Belarus and its Western neighbors drastically deteriorated in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential elections, whose outcome was contested by the opposition and prompted mass protests. The EU openly supported the opponents of Lukashenko, with Poland becoming one of their most active supporters.
The ongoing conflict between Russia, the main ally of Belarus, and Ukraine has apparently damaged the strained ties even further. Poland has angrily reacted to the deployment of Russian nukes, now hosted by Belarus, and, in recent weeks, repeatedly sounded the alarm over the alleged activities of the Wagner Group private military company.
The Russian PMC ended up being re-deployed to Belarus in the aftermath of its botched insurrection in late June. The alleged activities of the PMC near the border alarmed the Polish leadership, with PM Mateusz Morawiecki claiming they were "undoubtedly a step towards an upcoming hybrid attack on Polish territory." Minsk had dismissed such claims, with Lukashenko stating Warsaw had "gone mad" over Wagner rumors.