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Belarus, Poland in row over Kosciuszko monument in Swiss town

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Photo: nn.by

The Association of Belarusians in Switzerland plans to erect a monument to Tadeusz Kosciuszko but the situation has led to a scandal. Polish diplomats made it so that all mentions of Belarus and all Belarusian inscriptions were completely removed from the monument, nn.by reports.

The monument will be unveiled on October 21. The idea was suggested by deputy chairperson of the Association of Belarusians of Switzerland Ales Sapeha. He conducted negotiations with the authorities, gathered money and found a sculptor who agreed to charge the smallest possible sum for his work. $6000 was spent. The biggest part of the sum was donated by the Sapegas. The rest was donated by the Belarusian diaspora of Switzerland

There had to be two inscriptions of the monument in German and Belarusian: “To the son of Belarus from grateful compatriots”.

"Unfortunately, Polish Ambassador to Bern Jakub  Kumoch  has made it so that the words ‘To the son of Belarus from grateful compatriots’ and all Belarusian words have been removed from the monument,” Ales Sapeha said. According to him, Polish diplomats told the Swiss authorities that they would not take part in the Swiss-Polish celebration of October 15 in Solothurn if the inscription stayed on the monument. Then the Mayor of Solothurn changed the inscription so that it would satisfy Poland.

Only a few lines have remained on the monument:

"Tadeusz Kosciuszko
04.02.1746 — 15.10.1817
Gestiftet von der Weissrussischen Vereinigung in der Schweiz 2017"

("Installed by the Association of Belarusians of Switzerland in 2017”)

Sapeha sent a complaint to the Mayor and has already received his reply. “He explained that he could understand our situation but he was not the person to denote historical justice and had to take the Polish side.”

The Belarusian is preparing to lodge a complaint to the Polish Ministry for Foreign Affairs with the help of the Kosciuszko Foundation in Krakow. The foundation has taken Sapeha’s side thinking that it is wrong to divide up Kosciuszko between Belarusians and Poles.