Poland”s Prime Minister has vowed support for Belarus’ opposition after a senior member of his ruling party criticised a leading dissident leader and suggested Polish solidarity could be conditional.
Mateusz Morawiecki said his government would always stand with those citizens struggling for democracy.
It follows an intervention from Ryszard Terlecki, a deputy parliament speaker and member of the conservative Law and Justice party, who generated controversy with his remarks.
Terlecki had spoken after Belarus’ leading opposition figure, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, met with Warsaw’s centrist mayor Rafal Trzaskowski last week.
“If Tsikhanouskaya wants to promote the anti-democratic opposition in Poland and speak at Trzaskowski’s meeting, let her seek help in Moscow, and let us support a Belarusian opposition that is not on the side of our opponents,” Terlecki tweeted.
The comments caused outrage in Poland, with many opponents demanding that the deputy speaker resign.
When asked about the matter on Monday, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki insisted his country would continue to support Belarus’ opposition.
“From the very beginning of the protests in August last year we are with the Belarusians who are fighting for freedom, fighting for the rule of law, fighting for democracy,” Morawiecki said.
The PM did also defend Terlecki’s record, noting that his fellow conservative member had been active in the struggle for democracy in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s.
Poland’s government currently provides funding for Belsat, a Warsaw-based TV station that broadcasts independent news into Belarus.
The country has also placed pressure on Belarusian President Alexander Lukanshenko and has welcomed many Belarusian activists and students who now live in exile.
Last week during her visit to Warsaw, Tsikhanouskaya thanked Polsih President Andrzej Duda and mayor Trzaskowski for the help Belarusians were receiving from different authorities in Poland.