Poland’s FM visiting Belarus: ‘One day our nations fell victim to a certain empire’

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski is on his official visit to Belarus. On Tuesday morning he laid wreaths on the graves of the victims of Stalinist repression.

“This is our history. I was a member of various delegations, and there are always sites of commemoration on programs of visits. Not so long ago, I visited the cemetery where heroes of Monte Cassino are buried. Here, near Minsk, unknown heroes who cannot even be identified lie. In Kurapaty representatives of many nations were killed, including many thousands of Poles. We do not blame the Belarusians for anything. We just want to honour this site together as one day our nations fell victims to a certain empire,” Witold Waszczykowski said.

Kurapaty, a place on the outskirts of Minsk, became a grave for over 200,000 people executed by Stalin’s secret police. Later the Communist party repeatedly attempted to shift the blame for shootings on Nazis. In 1994 the then U.S. President Bill Clinton visited Kurapaty. Interestingly, Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has never come to honour the memory of the killed for his 22-year presidency.

It should be noted that Polish top officials have not visited Belarus for six years. It was the former Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski who arrived in Belarus before the 2010 presidential elections during the so-called ‘thaw’.

“For many years, there have been no high-level contacts between our countries. We will raise different issues – economic, cultural, and many, many other ones that neighbours should settle,” Waszczykowski said.

A meeting of Poland’s Foreign Minister and Belarusian President Lukashenka is scheduled. Mr Waszczykowski is also about to visit a Polish visa center, lay flowers on the monument to Eliza Orzeszkowa in Hrodna and meet with representatives of Belarusian opposition.