Belarusian opposition activist Andrzej Poczobut (left) with Polish FM Radoslaw Sikorski in Warsaw, 23.09.2011. Photo: PAP/Pawel Supernak
“In leading the [EU Council] rotating presidency, and in agreement with the High Representative for EU External Affairs [Catherine Ashton], I have invited Sergei Martynov,” Sikorski told journalists at the close of this week.
Poland’s foreign minister underlined, however, that a condition for dialogue with Belarus is the release of all political prisoners. “Poland wants Belarus to join the family of free, European nations,” Sikorski underlined.
Ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit, Radoslaw Sikorski met, Friday, with opposition activist Andrzej Poczobut, an ethnically Polish journalist from Grodno.
Poczobut underwent trial in Belarus this year for alleged defamation of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko in a number of articles the journalist had written for Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza daily, among others.
This week, courts in Grodno upheld its sentence of a three-year suspended sentence for Poczobut.
Speaking to journalists, Sikorski said that only the freedom of Andrzej Poczobut and other anti-regime activists would allow for dialogue between Minsk and Brussels.
Summit to create conditions for EU-Belarus round table
The Eastern Partnership summit is billed for 29-30 September, and is one of the chief events of Poland’s six-month EU Council presidency, which began in July.
Inaugurated by Poland with the backing of Sweden in the EU arena, the Eastern Partnership was launched in 2009 to bring six ex-Soviet states closer to the workings of the 27-nation bloc.
The countries which are part of the Eastern Partnership – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – are not slated to become EU members, but are open to integrate with the politics, economy, and law of the EU.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk informed on Wednesday that he had been given the go-ahead from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as to the summit’s objective.
“I am persuading European leaders – and convincing Berlin has not been as easy – that in cooperating with the Belarusian [political] opposition we may create the conditions for possible round table talks in Belarus,” Tusk declared.
The Prime Minister also added that Poland is best prepared to help in the creation of such a round table forum in the country’s eastern neighbour. (jb)