O. Pikh, O. Ruda Policy of «Critical Dialogue» in Relations Between Poland and Belarus during 1996–2004

DOI: 10.20535/2307-5244.48.2019.176396

Ivan Krypiakevych Institute of Ukrainian Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

The article highlights the process of formation and implementation of Polish
foreign policy towards Belarus in 1996–2004. It is pointed out that its priority
in that region was to consolidate sovereignty and to ensure democratic transformations
in such countries as Ukraine and Belarus that were to become a security
buffer zone in the East. At the same time, it was stressed that, unlike the Polish-
Ukrainian relations, Polish-Belarusian relations lacked a clear strategy and
defined goals for bilateral cooperation. The Belarusian elites and society tended
to integrate with Russia and had a restrained reaction to an active progression
of Poland to NATO and the EU.
It is stated that after A. Lukashenko won the presidential elections in 1994,
the collapse of democratic freedoms and strengthening of the authoritarian rule
took place in the country. Those antidemocratic processes in Belarus resulted in
the political isolation of the country and its leadership on the part of the EU and
the United States. Poland, that strove to join European and Euro-Atlantic institutions,
supported similar actions; however, its strategy in the East made it impossible
to completely reject a dialogue with the Republic of Belarus. Trying to
pursue policy of protecting democratic values and interests of the Polish national
minority in Belarus, the official Warsaw introduced the policy of the “critical
dialogue” in bilateral relations.
The article draws attention to the fact that the diplomatic pressure of Poland
on Belarus in the framework of the “critical dialogue” did not have tangible results,
since the latter was neither economically nor politically connected with the
Republic of Poland and Western institutions. In addition, the above mentioned
two countries had absolutely different strategic foreign policy goals.
It is noted that a lack of the clear political line in the relations of Poland with
Belarus, concentration of the Eastern policy only on the relations with Ukraine
and Russia, led to a complete suspension of the top level intergovernmental dialogue.
At the same time, Polish leadership remained open to restoration of the
negotiation process and was expecting the Belarusian authorities to take steps to
democratize political life and to form a more balanced foreign policy.

Keywords: Republic of Poland, Republic of Belarus, NATO, foreign policy,
integration.

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