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EP Delegation Heads To Minsk Amid Ongoing Row Over Polish Group

Andzelika Borys, chairwoman of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB)
MINSK -- A European Parliament delegation is due in Belarus today for a three-day fact-finding mission.

The visit comes amid strained ties between Belarus and the European Union over Minsk's treatment of its ethnic Polish minority.

The delegation is expected to meet government officials, as well as representatives of the opposition and civil society.

Based on its findings it will issue a report expected to be key for an upcoming European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus.

"The results and impressions that the delegation comes back with will have an important meaning insofar as the position of the parliament is concerned," delegation member Justas Paleckis told RFE/RL's Belarus Service ahead of the visit.

That resolution is expected to focus on recent action by Belarusian police against an unofficial Polish cultural organization, the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB).

The group was evicted from its office buildings near Minsk earlier this month and police have also briefly detained a number of its activists.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers said they were "concerned" about those moves and said they constituted a setback in the EU's relationship with Belarus.

ZPB chairwoman Andzelika Borys was in Brussels this week for a series of meeting with European parliamentarians.

The delegation's report will also include recommendations for the composition of Belarus's delegation to the so-called Euronest parliamentary assembly.

That is the planned parliamentary component of the EU's eastern partnership, which is aimed at boosting ties with six countries -- Ukraine, Moldova,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as Belarus.

There is speculation that MEPs will propose that Borys be included in Minsk's delegation.