Polish Embassy not to sue BT

The statement made by the Belarusian Television that the rights of the Belarusian minority in Poland were oppressed, made Poland's Ambassador in our country Leszek Sherepka incensed. The diplomat decided to refute this through the independent media.

Leszek Sherepka : “Normally we do not comment your television's statements, but they crossed the line yesterday, and we decided that it was necessary to tell the truth. They touched upon the issue of minorities, and we need to be very correct in this issue”.

According to the Ambassador, the state television accused the Polish side that Poland allegedly ousted the "Belarusian Cultural Center" out of Bialystok. Without any clarifications where to. Meanwhile, the situation, says the diplomat, looks as follows - the center is "ousted"  to Warsaw.

Leszek Sherepka : “It is done the following way in Poland: when a diplomatic employee works not in the capital of the country, but in a consular district - he has the status of a consular establishment, not a diplomatic one. The employees of this "Belarusian Cultural Center" have the diplomatic status, not the consular one. So we suggested that they changed that in accordance with the set practice”.

Moreover, the consultations in this regard started between the Belarusian and the Polish Foreign Ministries back in October 2010. They were resumed in May 2011. It's weird enough but the Polish Embassy received the response from the Belarusian MFA - the draft agreement with regard to cultural centers, exactly on September 19, the day after the scandalous BT's report.

Leszek Sherepka : “It is stated in it that Poland opens "Polish Institute in Minsk", and Belarus opens the "Cultural Center" in Warsaw. This is not an obstacle to open other cultural centers in other cities in the future, even simultaneously. However, according to the practice, when such centers are opened in other cities they are supposed to work at the territory of the consular district, not of the whole country”.

As for the attitude to national minorities, says the Ambassador, he visited Voranava, Lida and Vaukavysk districts last week. According to official information, 82% Poles live in the first district, one third of all the inhabitants - in the second one, and 25% - in the third one. 

Leszek Sherepka : “For instance, only 50 people study Polish in Voranava district, as a foreign subject. There are no state schools which teach the Polish language in Lida district, only several private schools. There is only one school in Vaukavysk district where the education is provided in Polish, and a little more than 180 pupils study in it. The situation is that only 12% of those people who consider themselves ethnic Poles understand Polish at all!”

As for the appearance of the Polish House in Lida, it really upset the Ambassador. 

Leszek Sherepka : “I saw such cracks in the walls of that house that I am sure it will fall down in a year or two. This is a good symbol of some people's policy towards the Poles in Belarus”.

In Poland, says the Ambassador, there is a totally different attitude to the Belarusian minority: everyone is provided with an opportunity to be educated in Belarusian, there are centers of the Belarusian culture in many cities, Belarusian newspapers are published. All this is financed by the state.

Euroradio asked whether the Polish authorities would send an official protest note to the Belarusian MFA with regard to this TV scandal. However, according to the Ambassador, they decided just to meet with the independent media. They are not going to sue BT or to demand directly that the state channel's administration should refute that information. However, he did not exclude that this incident might make the Belarusian-Polish relations even worse.

Photo by: Zmicier Lukashuk