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Belarus, Poland Discuss Dispute Over Polish Group

Warsaw recognizes Andzelika Borys's Union of Poles as the sole legitimate representative of Belarus's ethnic Polish minority.
MINSK -- Belarus and Poland are holding talks in Minsk on resolving the conflict over a Polish cultural organization, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported.

The dispute centers on Minsk's clampdown on the Union of Poles of Belarus.

Today's talks are taking place at the Foreign Ministry, according to Polish Embassy press spokesman Paval Marczuk.

The delegations are headed by Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and Leanid Huliaka, head of Belarus's commission for religious and ethnic minorities. No civil-society representatives were invited to participate.

The decision to hold the consultations was made during a meeting in Kyiv on February 25 between Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

On March 10, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Belarus condemning, among other human rights violations, the Belarusian authorities' harassment of the unofficial Union of Poles headed by Andzelika Borys.

The parliament urged the Belarusian authorities to register Borys's group and return its confiscated property.

In early February, at the request of a rival Polish group registered by the Belarusian government, the authorities seized the community house operated by Borys's group in the town of Ivianiets.

Warsaw, which recognizes Borys's Union of Poles as the sole legitimate representative of Belarus's ethnic Polish minority, briefly recalled its ambassador in response.

Representatives of the two countries said they are hopeful that today's talks will result in a solution to the row.