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Behind the thaw

For over two decades Polish-Belarusian relations have been connected to Belarus’s relations with the West. There have been oscillations between years of warming relations and colder periods. Since Russia annexed Crimea and the Russian threat in Eastern Europe has become widely recognised, many European countries have re-evaluated their policies towards Belarus, which although authoritarian is not aggressive. Poland is one such country.

The foundations for a new opening towards Belarus were laid before Poland’s 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections. It was in April 2014, during the first weeks of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, when President Alyaksandr Lukashenka asked the Polish government to join in a mediation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Poland’s prime minister at the time, Donald Tusk, turned down the offer for fear that the Kremlin was behind the initiative. Based on information that I have gathered from sources, this proposal called for placing Belarusian peacekeeping forces in Donbas, thereby disregarding the Crimea issue as well as the guarantee of Ukraine’s neutrality.
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November 5, 2018 - Michał Potocki - Articles and CommentaryIssue 6 2018Magazine

Polish speaker of the Senate, Stanisław Karczewski, during a 2018 visit to Belarus. Belarus’s crawling opening to Europe encouraged Poland’s new government, elected in 2015, to consider a change in relations with its neighbour. Photo courtesy of the Senate of the Republic of Poland (CC)

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