July 30, 2005

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF:

This is one to watch – there is a low level cold war developing between Central Europe’s largest democracy and Eastern Europe’s last remaining Soviet holdover quasi-dictatorship. . . .

Says Poland’s deputy Foreign Minister, Jan Truszczynski: “Belarus is one of the last bastions of authoritarianism in Europe. The European Union will have to deal with these crackdowns in a more effective way. There should be some form of sanctions imposed on the leadership, including a travel ban.”

Poland is not happy, not just because it doesn’t appreciate a crackdown on its minority in Belarus, but because it historically sees itself as the leader of the pro-democracy forces in the region. Poland has played an important international role in support of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution last year; the presence of a Soviet throwback on its eastern border offends Poland’s sense of historical progress.

Not much movement from the EU yet, but that could change.