Official Minsk foresees curtailments of positive trends in Belarusan-Polish relations. However, Belarusan authorities hope that Warsaw won’t block normalization of Belarus-Europe relations.
Last week, President Lukashenka congratulated Andrzej Duda on his election as President of Poland. Duda’s election as Polish President has struck a warning note for the Belarusan authorities. Even thought the Belarusan authorities hope that Poland would continue to support the EU policy of normalizing relations with Belarus, they are nevertheless ready for some cooling in Belarusan-Polish relations.
In addition, Belarus believes that Poland will be somewhat restrained by the general European trend toward normalization of Belarusan-European relations. Ideally, Belarus would like to formulate a relatively neutral bilateral agenda with Poland, which would focus on cross-border and pragmatic economic cooperation.
The newly elected Polish president is known for his tough rhetoric vis-à-vis Russia, Belarus therefore hopes that he will take into account its "balanced" position on Russian-Ukrainian relations. The authorities also emphasize the potential threat to the independence of Belarus, which, they believe, could become an important lever to influence new Polish leadership. Belarus would do her best to position itself as a deterrent to the Kremlin’s aggressive policy.
The Belarusan opposition, in general, has positively assessed Duda’s election. They hope that Warsaw will strengthen its principled position vis-à-vis the Belarusan authorities and will increase support for civil society. For instance, some representatives of the academic community are looking forward to Warsaw’s assistance in founding the Belarusan National University.
In addition, it is quite likely that the Belarusan authorities may strengthen their ‘anti-Polish rhetoric’ and resume repressions against members of the unregistered Union of Poles – which they conventionally do ahead of presidential elections in Belarus.
All in all, the Belarusan authorities reckon that new Polish President Andrzej Duda would not seriously exacerbate relations between Minsk and Warsaw, and would allow some criticism of the situation inside Belarus.