The Poland–Belarus Relationship: Geopolitics Gave New Impetus,  but no Breakthrough

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In 2014 Poland–Belarus relations received a new impetus after three years of having a cold relationship. Since then there has been an unprecedented rise in political contacts between the two countries. This EAST researcher Andrei Yeliseyeu’s report reviews recent developments in bilateral relations between Poland and Belarus.

In 2016 Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski paid an official visit to Belarus and met Alyaksandr Lukashenka. His Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Makei has visited Warsaw three times since 2014. Furthermore, four Poland–Belarus interparliamentary meetings took place in 2016–2017. While Warsaw’s objective is to prevent Belarus finding itself in insuperable political and economic dependence on Russia, Minsk is hoping to convert improved political relations with the West as an inflow of investments and creation of joint ventures.

Recent developments and present challenges in Poland-Belarus relations are analysed in the EAST Andrei Yeliseyeu‘s chapter for the book Belarusian Foreign Policy: 360°, issued by the Latvia’s Centre for East European Policy Studies.

Interestingly, recent improvements in Poland–Belarus relations have taken place during the ruling of Law and Justice in Poland  The last time the party controlled the Polish Government in 2005–2007 the latter pursued a consistent policy of democratic support in Belarus and, among other things, initiated the satellite Belsat TV for the Belarusian population. However this time, instead of expanding support to democratic Belarusian projects, the Polish Government has put them into question. Discussions about a cut in financial support to Belsat and even a possible termination of the channel’s broadcasting, is the most illustrative example in this regard.

Although the EU and Poland remain engaged with Belarusian opposition and the public at large, their approach towards Belarus has lately become more pragmatic. It seems that this time Warsaw’s willingness to reengage with Belarus is based on geopolitical reasoning to a much greater extent than ever before. Despite intensified contacts between the two countries in the last three years, the issue of the Union of Poles remains unresolved. The same is true about the local border traffic agreement between Poland and Belarus, which remains blocked by Minsk.

Read full report The Poland–Belarus Relationship: Geopolitics Gave New Impetus, but no Breakthrough

Electronic edition of the book Belarusian Foreign Policy: 360° by the Centre for East European Policy Studies is available here