Commentary: Poland vs Belarus – between cynicism and hypocrisy | Comments from DW Reviewers and Guest Contributors | DW
From time to time, warning functions are distributed on the border between Poland and Belarus: preliminary border guards, who have sworn unconditional service to their homeland, protect its territory from violent incursions. This is a dangerous situation: a shot in the air across the border of a hostile state will quickly ignite. As if under a magnifying glass, this conflict shows the weakness of Europe and the political cynicism of those in power – not only in Russia and Belarus, but also in Poland.
The European Union and its Weaknesses
Since 2015, when a huge wave of the virus exposed fault lines in Europe, the most toxic topic discussed in Brussels has been migration policy. Discussions, members of the EU member states, are about the granting of asylum of general and migration legislation, many times more fierce than the disputes about money, climate and everything else that separates these states.
Attempts to work out common rules over and over again suffer.
When migration policy is on the agenda, ideological blinders fall off, and nationalism takes over the general European discourse. On this issue, no one should hide behind the “decisions of Brussels”: it was the malicious intent of some EU member states that led to the failure of the common migration policy. And Poland is primarily an obstacle to achieving mutual understanding and progress.
So when Warsaw now turns to Europe for help, it only means money to build a wall on the border. The fact that the EU countries do not jointly receive and distribute information is the fault of the Polish government itself. It was it that has always rejected manifestations of solidarity, so now whether it will be able to appeal to good-neighborliness.
Cynicism of Moscow and Minsk
Who first came up with the idea to use as a weapon in this new kind of hybrid war against Europe – the ruler in the Kremlin or the dictator in Minsk? The sophisticated meanness of this venture points rather to Vladimir Putin than to the sometimes narrow-minded and cruel ruler of Belarus.
You should have seen the grin of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when he hinted that the EU could pay (Belarus. – Ed.) for the possibility of delivery to the border. The old political professional knows the weak points of his opponents.
Lukashenka, however, now has a first-class blackmail tool in his hands – accusations of inhumanity and mafia human trafficking in any case flow down with him like water off a duck’s back. He has already become an outcast for Moscow, so he no longer has to worry about losing his reputation.
The Brussels sanctions have not yet done him serious harm. This may change if the European Union introduces serious bans on Belarusian exports. But until now, the EU has been deterred from doing this by caring about the people in Belarus and its own companies.
The hypocrisy of Warsaw
Poland, meanwhile, gives the impression that the current situation poses an acute threat to its security. The Polish president even turned to NATO, as his country is threatened by the armed horde of Genghis Khan. However, the uproar made by Warsaw is mainly propaganda. To date, the government of Belarus, using the methods of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, has managed to lure several thousand indications to the border with Poland. And these freezing people, who have nothing left but the clothes they wear, threaten 38 million Poles? This statement is simply absurd!
But the border conflict plays into the hands of the Polish government, which is based on the Law and Justice Party (PiS). Recently, her rating, according to opinion polls, has fallen – many Poles have turned their backs on her because of the strict ban on abortion, hostility towards Europe and the undermining of the rule of law.
To counter these sentiments, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PiS leader and prime minister, is unleashing a veritable wave of xenophobia and nationalism that puts the opposition in a difficult position. In full accordance with the old rule that it is a sin not to take advantage of a good crisis.
In the role of hostages – living people
The hostages in this cynical game are people who sit in cold and dark forests and swamps on the Polish-Belarusian border and cannot move forward or backward. The government in Warsaw has even banned access to humanitarian organizations that want to help migrants’ stuck borders. This violates all international conventions – but the PiS party probably believes that its reputation can no longer be taken care of.
The EU should stop false statements of solidarity with Poland and put pressure on the government in Warsaw, forcing it to immediately start looking for a humane solution to the problem with people at the border – possibly with the help of international organizations. The rest is a matter of negotiations: from the countries of origin and transit of goods, with Russia and Belarus. This must be done urgently, because winter is approaching – along with it and the danger that very soon there will be even more deaths on the border.
By Barbara Wesel, DW Columnist
The commentary expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editorial staff and Deutsche Welle in general.