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Former Polish Deputy Defense Minister: Belarus is at the heart of the European security

12.07.2016  |  Politics
Former Polish Deputy Defense Minister: Belarus is at the heart of the European security

But Belarus has to decide whether to be in the structure of Western, independent states, or a Russian province and a springboard where Russia will be able to place its divisions to march on the West.

In an interview with Belsat the former Deputy Defense Minister of Poland Romuald Szeremietiew speaks about the Warsaw NATO summit and its effects.

- Will the results of the NATO summit affect the security of Poland and the Central Region?

- Not only of Poland. I agree with President Obama who spoke about the pivotal role of Poland in the region as far as the security guarantees are concerned. Really – such an obligation has been imposed on Poland. It means that the decisions taken at this summit are, indeed, essential and, what pleases me most, is the fact of the military strengthening of the Baltic States. Indeed, in this case, the battalion that will appear in Poland has about a thousand of soldiers – not the high-gain as the Polish army has much more. But the Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians a thousand soldiers is a serious thing. In addition, it is the soldiers of another state which gives the countries insurance that the states would engage on their behalf – it is essential.

- Will Russia be afraid of the four battalions?

- Of course not. Of course not. If we talk about the European-Russian relations, the determinant here is that Russia is aware of its inability to overcome the potential of NATO. Yes, of course – it should not go so far as for this potential to be used. This is the first thing. Secondly, I do not think that Russia will abandon its policy, it will look for measures to split NATO — split and divide it. And this summit is proof of the fact that at the moment Russia has failed to do this, and it’s a very important signal for me. This is what our security guarantees are based on right now.

- The guarantee of Poland’s security today is the fifth article of the NATO treaty which says that all for one and one for all. Did it get a new meaning after the events in Ukraine?

- The issue of the fifth article is constantly raised. Naturally, the summit confirmed that record, but I have constantly emphasized that the Washington agreement also has a third article which says that each Member State should take care of their own defensive capabilities. After all, this is the strength of the union – that we all contribute our potentials. I believe that this responsibility lies with Poland, but also with other countries of the region – to develop their armed forces so as not to be intimidated by the Kremlin.

- Which status of Belarus is more useful for security in our region?

- I am convinced that Belarus plays a major role in the security of the region. If you remember the history and past wars, Poland has always been a victim of attacks coming via Belarus. Either that or in the times of Rzeczpospolita – Poland, White Russia, Red Russia and Lithuania – were in the same state, and defending or attacking – also passed through the region. Belarus is at the heart of the European security. And the question is what role Belarus will play: whether the state will be in the structure of the Western, independent countries, or a Russian province and thus a springboard where Russia will be able to place its divisions to march on the West. This is a serious problem facing Belarus and the West. How is Belarus going to build its policy, including foreign policy. I think that the Polish side started to notice, understand the role of Belarus. And now the question is how to connect them with each other. That is, the current authorities of Belarus and the impact Russia is having on Belarus, and on the other side – awareness probably of more and more Belarusians that the Pursuit and white-red-white flag are the best choice.

- Is NATO a threat to Belarus?

- No way. The Russian side, of course, regularly says that Poland is supposedly going to take the Hrodna or Brest region. This, of course, is nonsense. Poland not only has no intention to attack anyone but more than that – we believe that it is not necessary to change the once set borders. In fact, one such change be followed by similar changes, and then we would get the war in Europe. But if we do as we did in the European Union when the people live on both sides of the borders, they can easily meet, have a thriving trade, transportation goes without obstacles – it would be the best solution. Therefore, Poland would like to have a free and democratic neighbor, which is part of the West, and I wish this to our Belarusian brothers with all my heart.

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