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Adam Lipiński: No more chatting with Lukashenka, it is time for concrete measures

czwartek, 22 sierpnia 2013 r.

Adam Lipiński is a Polish politician, deputy chairperson of the party Law and Justice, deputy of the Polish Sejm. In 2005 when the party got the majority of votes during the parliamentary elections he became a member of the government. He was the press-secretary of the chancellery of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczyński. Adam Lipiński is an advocate of rigid politics regarding Lukashenka’s regime and support of the Belarusian opposition and civil society.

Attempts of a dialogue, modernization and humanization of Lukashenka’s regime will lead nowhere.
The attempts to establish a “dialog” and to make Lukashenka’s regime appear more “humane” lead nowhere, as deputy chairperson of the Polish party Law and Justice and deputy of the Polish Sejm Adam Lipiński said in an exclusive interview to charter97.org.
- Parties Law and Justice and Civic Platform are Poland’s most influential political forces. How different are their politics regarding Belarus?
- The “Belarusian issue” is the uniting factor. We often disagree on economy, finance or healthcare issues… But when the discussion touches upon Belarus, human rights violations, we immediately find a common language. In theory, we agree in this question to 100 percent. In practice, there is a specific difference between us. The civil society and democratic forces of Belarus received the main share of aid when the party Law and Justice ruled in Poland. During this time, we initiated major projects: radio Racja, tv-channel Belsat, scholarship program of Kastus Kalinowski. We introduced Karta Polaka (Pole’s Card), we helped the victims of repressions. Most of these initiatives still exist, but the problem is that there are no new projects, while the funds given to the old ones grow smaller. It shouldn’t be this way.
- Many activists of the two parties come from the legendary Solidarity; in the times of the communist dictatorship they fought for the same ideals. Where does this violent antagonism come from?
- Initially, Solidarity was never a party. It was neither ideological nor political movement. It was a movement with the purpose to protect civil rights and freedoms from terror and dictatorship. But already in the late 80s many activists of Solidarity started to unite around specific political ideas. A part considered themselves conservatives, a part – Christian democrats, someone supported liberals, someone – socialists. Thus, in the 90s there appeared lots of parties, movements, right political blocks that further formed today’s two principle forces: Law and Justice and Civic Platform. And it was an absolutely natural process.
- According to the statistics, 67 percent of Poles are not satisfied with the government, 72 percent criticize Prime Minister Donald Tusk. However, nor is your party’s rate growing. How can you explain that?
- Basing on rates, one can conclude that certain politicians are very popular, but today the parties they represent are rather weak. Poland’s former president Aleksander Kwaśniewski also enjoys great popularity, but only him, not the entire movement that he represents. Indeed, after the six-year rule of Civic Platform, the government has started to lose the people’s trust. Meanwhile the number of supporters of Law and Justice is growing. Several years ago the difference in the rate of the two parties was enormous: we had about 15 percent while they had almost 50 percent. Now, according to the polls, both Law and Justice and Civic Platform have very similar figures: 30-35 percent. In other words, we are running neck and neck. And although the government loses trust, our party’s popularity is not growing rapidly because of the propaganda in the media. When Civic Platform came to the power, a Sejm group was established to investigate the allegedly illegal activities of Law and Justice performed under our rule. The topic was picked up by some media. This group worked for four years and didn’t find anything illegal in our operations. But these publications have left an unpleasant aftertaste.
- What are further plans of the Polish opposition?
- Right now there is hardly any other party, apart from ours, that can be regarded a political rival of Civic Platform. So when Civic Platform’s support decreases, the majority of the Sejm will be formed from the members of Right and Justice . But until then there’s still a lot to do, many mistakes to fix.
- There is an opinion that Poland owns the “Belarusian issue” in the European Union. And it is obviously true: it is your country that helps the democratic forces and civil society in Belarus most. But, on the other hand, the trade between Poland and Belarus has doubled in the recent years. How can you explain that?
- I have already mentioned the certain difference in approaches to the “Belarusian issue” that exist in Poland. The position of Law and Justice is rigid, we base on the values of the human rights. Although there are politicians in Civic Platform that fully dedicate their work to the fight for freedom in Belarus, there are pragmatic members focused solely on the economic aspects. This is what’s happening in Europe today: Germany and France tolerate Lukashenka’s regime, trade with him and profit from this trade, while Poland is against this relationship and doesn’t get the profit it could have earned. Some Polish politicians use this argument. That is why our government often makes concessions as far as Poland’s relations with Lukashenka are concerned.
- What do you think about the European Union’s initiative European Dialogue for Modernisation with Belarus? Some say that a modernization of Lukashenka’s Belarus is the same as a modernization of a concentration camp.
- Only concrete actions can help against a dictator. Any attempts to negotiate, modernize, make the regime appear more “humane” lead nowhere. For some time ago I introduced a new expression, democratization by taking hostages: Lukashenka threw 10 persons in jail and everyone is talking about the “regime” and “dictatorship”, but hardly had he released one of them a year later when “democratization” is discussed. It’s only a game.
I am very skeptical about any form of a dialog between Poland and Belarus. At that very moment when activists of the Belarusian opposition were beaten up in the streets of Minsk, the Polish Foreign Minister gave money for a training course of the Belarusian customs police. Of course, this is not the police that assault people in the streets, but still. I would definitely switch to a tougher policy regarding the Belarusian powers. And this issue is firmer in our party than Civic Platform. We are ready to help the Belarusian opposition because many of us used to be oppositionists in the communists’ Poland. There are former anti-communist activists among the members of Civic Platform, but, apparently, in our memory those years have left a more vivid trace.
- By the way, speaking about those years, as a third-year student of the Wroclaw Economic Academy, why did you decide to join the opposition?
- I chose my way myself. Nobody led me there, nobody taught me.
- What was your occupation back then?
- I was employed as a press-secretary of the Student Committee of Solidarity. Then there was martial law and I became a publisher of the regional strike committee in Wroclaw, founded the Public movement of Solidarity. The police was searching for me, I had to be on the run for more than two years, and even my parents knew nothing of my whereabouts. My life was secret flats, meetings, production and distribution of leaflets. There were raids, dramatic situations, depressions… It’s a pity that there’s no movie about the anti-communist underground, that nobody has shown what it really was.
- In today’s Belarus, just like in Poland of the time of the martial law, any oppositional activity is basically illegal.
- Yes, I recall a story. I once came to Grodna to meet with Anzhalika Borys. When my companion and I knocked, the door opened and we saw that we were filmed. Apparently, they wanted to have everything on the film because they thought that we came from the police. This situation, the people, the conversations, everything reminded me of the 70s, the years of the Resistance. This time is over in Poland, but not in Belarus.
- There is an opinion that deputies of the Polish Sejm are not particularly interested in the “Belarusian issue”. How can the interest in Belarus be kept alive with the Polish parliamentarians?
- I don’t share this opinion. A discussion of the situation in Belarus is the fastest way to unite the Sejm deputies. For example, right now I work with establishment of the parliamentary group Free Cuba and it is definitely much harder to draw interest of the deputies to this issue than to Belarus’ problems.
- In the beginning of 2011 you wrote the resolution that accused the Belarusian regime of the repressions against the Belarusian opposition. The resolution contained an appeal, to the European Parliament among others, to “take real actions directed at the support of the civil society of Belarus”. Has any result been achieved, and are you pleased with it?
- That message to the deputies of the European Parliament was more of a symbolic nature. But the more resolutions are written, the better are the chances that they will catch someone’s interest and get a response.
- A couple of years ago in an interview you said that “Poland and Belarus are playing chess, while Lukashenka and Poland are playing hockey.” Does it mean that Warsaw’s politics is soft and cautious, or is it well-elaborated in all details, like in chess?
- Frankly speaking I don’t remember saying that. But anyway, I like the idea. This is how I see it: Poland is trying to act according to international norms, while Lukashenka, in his turn, is using his hockey club. He hits his rivals’ heads with the club each time he doesn’t like anything, and that’s it. Poles have been hit in their head several times. And let it be our lesson; it’s no use talking to Lukashenka, only concrete measures and hard action can help against him.
- What Lukashenka’s sore points can Poland press? Have all methods been tried?
- There are different tactics. But the situation in Belarus is complicated because Russia can and wants to devour Belarus. And we cannot let it happen. For example, some European politicians urge to start a dialog with Lukashenka saying that, isolated, Belarus will entirely submit to Kremlin’s authority. And Lukashenka is using this card, he is bluffing. In my turn, I have been analyzing different variants and considering different scenarios, and I am convinced that only tough politics regarding the regime in Minsk can be effective.
- How important is it to support independent media that work abroad?
- Everything that carries freedom should be supported. Of course, we should consider effectiveness of every project. If an initiative hasn’t proved effective, I see no point in investing in it. However, there are many successful projects that need support, but not only from Poland and Polish funds. Yes, Poles know Belarus, our peoples have a common history, we, too, have survived a dictatorship and fought against communism, but Poland should help Belarus with international support and solidarity of all countries.

Komentarze użytkowników

wtorek, 27 sierpnia 2013 r.
Ciekawy wywiad. Sugerowałaby udostępnić jego wersję w języku polskim. Warto aby był szerzej rozkolportowany.

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