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Poland's Row With Belarus To Affect Visa Policy

21 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Polish authorities have suggested they could toss a Belarusian diplomat out of the country and hinted at visa troubles for Belarusians in the latest installment of a tit-for-tat row that erupted two months ago between those neighboring countries.

"The actions of the Belarusian authorities not only deteriorate the climate of bilateral relations but contain destructive elements," PAP quoted Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Checko as saying yesterday.

Warsaw does not rule out a diplomatic expulsion in connection with the ouster earlier this month of Andrzej Buczak, director of the consular department of the Polish Embassy in Minsk, Checko reportedly said. Checko added that Buczak's expulsion "cannot remain without influence on the efficiency of visa services and facilitations in traveling to Poland" for Belarusians.

Checko also stressed that Minsk's decision is tantamount to the rejection of the Polish offer of solving the ongoing Warsaw-Minsk diplomatic dispute through negotiation.

A Pattern Emerging?

A series of reciprocal diplomatic expulsions began in May when Minsk ousted Polish diplomat Marek Bucko, accusing him of interfering with activities of the Union of Poles in Belarus.

Minsk also recently denied a visa renewal to an American professor who had taught business and law classes at Belarusian State University since 2003 without offering an explanation. The professor, Terry Boesch, subsequently told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that he believes his case is part of a campaign to rid Belarus of Western influence ahead of general elections slated for 2006.

See also:

"Belarus Orders Expulsion Of Polish Diplomat"

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