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Belarusian ambassador urges Poland to resolve disputes via dialogue

By Sanjay Kumar

Published : Jan. 3, 2023 - 16:03

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Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Belarusian Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Belarusian Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky urged Poland to resolve bilateral disputes over the Russia-Ukraine war and migration crisis on the Polish border through diplomacy and dialogue.

Responding to Polish Ambassador to Korea Piotr Ostaszewski's comments in a previous interview with The Korea Herald, Chernetsky said his claims of Belarus' support of Russia in the war were "extremely belligerent" and that addressing such "accusations" via local media is not suitable to "sort things out."

Rather than confrontation, Poland should engage in diplomacy, Chernetsky urged.

"Events taking place now confirm rejecting diplomatic solutions to a conflict would increase the probability of a military option," said Chernetsky.

"At a time when people are dying, the world is entering its deepest economic and political crisis, and the threat of nuclear war is greater than ever. Under these circumstances, the main task of diplomacy is to find avenues for dialogue, ways to save humanity," he said.

Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Belarusian Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Belarusian Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

He also urged the Polish ambassador to stop advocating sanctions on Belarus, suggesting that such policy has proven to be ineffective as a lever of influence.

In the Sept. 6 interview, Ostaszewski questioned Belarus' neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine war and condemned Belarus for wholly and politically backing Russian aggression against Ukraine.

He accused Belarus of granting logistical support such as launching rockets and missiles to Russia. The country also allowed Russia to use Belarusian soil to attack Ukraine, he claimed.

Chernetsky insisted it is not involved in the war.

"Belarusian troops do not take part in the Russian special operations in Ukraine," he said.

"There is not a single piece of factual evidence that could confirm Belarus' participation in the Russia-Ukraine war."

Belarus has not joined the war directly nor sent troops to Ukraine, but it has helped Russia. Minsk has allowed Moscow to launch warplanes from Belarusian territory and Russian soldiers to pass through into Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month visited Minsk and met with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko. The rare visit fueled concerns that Moscow wants its ally to play a more active role in the war, although the Kremlin has dismissed the suggestions. During the visit, the two agreed to continue to hold joint military exercises.

In The Korea Herald interview, the Polish top envoy to Seoul also held Belarus responsible for creating a migration crisis at the Belarus-Poland border, eliminating the Polish language from the public education system in violation of bilateral agreements, and destroying Polish tombs and memorials in Belarus.

Chernetsky, in response, criticized Poland for disregarding asylum procedures, human rights guarantees, and the expulsion of migrants.

"Reports confirm multiple cases," added Chernetsky, referring to an Amnesty International report published on Dec. 20, 2021.

He also called on Poland to investigate the alleged persecution of human rights defenders and journalists working near the Belarusian-Polish border, accounts which were detailed in United Nations human rights experts’ observations on Feb. 15, 2022.

"Even Polish courts are dealing with this issue," the ambassador said.

Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Belarusian Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Belarusian Ambassador to Korea Andrew Chernetsky speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Belarusian Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

"It is outrageous and inhumane to divide refugees into 'bad' ones from the regions of Asia and Africa and ‘good’ ones coming from Ukraine," he said.

The migration crisis has been a long unsettled dispute between Belarus and Poland. Poland has accused Belarus of facilitating immigrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa to enter the EU through the Polish border and weaponizing migrants against Poland, the EU and NATO, claims which Belarus has denied.

Chernetsky also maintained that Polish is being taught in Belarus as a foreign language, and countered that not enough is being done to support the growing number of Belarusians in Poland.

"There are no education institutions in which education is conducted in Belarusian language, despite the fact that abount 200,000 Belarusians live in Poland," he said.

Closing the interview, Chernetsky said his mission in Seoul is to promote bilateral ties between Belarus and South Korea, not to "sort out" disputes between two eastern European countries.

"I see my mission in finding opportunities for my country to contribute to solving the problems facing the economy of the Republic of Korea in the field of agriculture and food, in the small and medium business sector," he said.