President Andrzej Duda in an interview with the US correspondent of “Fakt” TVN, Marcin Wrona, spoke about, inter alia, the activists of the Polish minority, Andżelika Borys and Andrzej Poczobuta, who are held in Belarusian custody. He admitted that we “tried in various ways” to help them. “We are unable to find any solution for their release at the moment,” he said. The topics of the conversation also included the issue of vaccination against COVID-19 or Nord Stream 2.
President Andrzej Duda, during his visit to the USA in connection with the participation in the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, gave an interview at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York to the correspondent of “Fakt” TVN in the United States, Marcin Wrona.
Among other things, he spoke about the case of Belarusian opponents and activists of the Polish minority arrested by Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime Andżeliki Borys and Andrzej Poczobut. They have been in harsh conditions in custody in Żodzin for many months. The Belarusian authorities accuse them of “inciting hatred”. The criminal case against them is considered politically motivated, and the release of the activists is demanded by the Polish government.
President Duda on Borys and Poczobucie: so far we are unable to find any solution that would release them
Andrzej Duda, when asked if we are able to help Poles in Belarus, including Borys and Poczobut, in an effective way, replied: – We tried in various ways. Without informing the public about it, we had behind-the-scenes talks. Besides, I personally talked to the leaders of various countries who could theoretically help us, they could talk to the Belarusian authorities in order to free our fellow citizens.
As the president said, “it was at the very beginning of this crisis, after they were arrested.” – Some of them were released, unfortunately Mr. Andrzej Poczobut and Mrs. Andżelika Borys did not – he added.
Duda said that he “would prefer not to disclose it” with whom he talked about the arrested. – Obviously, as a result of these actions, requests for some diplomatic mediation, some Poles who were arrested, Belarusian citizens, were released, and at the moment they are in Poland – he argued. As he said, the release was no secret, and even he himself met with the freed.
– That was a while ago. But, unfortunately, Mrs. Andżelika Borys and Mr. Andrzej Poczobut did not manage to free themselves. Also because they did not want to emigrate. Because then there was a situation where they said that they would not just leave Belarus, they were citizens of Belarus, this is their place, this is their home and they will not leave Belarus. Unfortunately, they remained in prison and are still in it – explained the president.
He admitted that “as yet we are unable to find any solution that would release them”. – But I must admit that we are very much counting on the support of the international community and hard influence in all possible ways on President Lukashenka’s regime, so that they will be released because they are imprisoned illegally, added Duda.
President Andrzej Duda: I encourage you to get vaccinated
In the interview, the president was also asked if he was afraid of coronavirus infection due to the fact that it was confirmed by officials from Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, with whom he had seen in the US.
– I can say this: no, I am not afraid (…), because not only did I have the coronavirus almost a year ago – because it was the turn of October and November, and then I had antibodies after passing, because it was checked that they are – then I was I vaccinated and the doctors guarantee that in no dangerous way – even if I get infected – I should not go through it – replied Duda. – I approach it on the basis of: well, if I get infected, I will survive again, but no serious consequences, I believe it, it should not cause my health – he explained.
– Therefore, yes, I encourage you to get vaccinated – said the president. – This significantly, significantly, significantly increases the likelihood that nothing bad will happen to us, even if we get sick, even if we come into contact with a person who is a carrier of the coronavirus or is simply ill – he argued. As he said, “at most we will have some ‘light flu’ and then we should recover quickly.”
Andrzej Duda reiterated that he encouraged vaccinations and assessed that “it would be good if a larger percentage of our society were vaccinated”. – The truth is that the higher the percentage of vaccinated people, the smaller the next wave of cases should be, the less severe are the cases and, of course, the fewer people who could potentially die, unfortunately, added the president.
Andrzej Duda on solidarity during the COVID-19 epidemic
Duda also referred to one of the threads he raised during his speech at the UN General Assembly. The president spoke there about solidarity in the situation of the COVID-19 epidemic.
As he admitted in an interview with TVN’s “Fakt” correspondent, he appeals for it “once”. – Of course, there are commentators who laugh at the fact that I wrote a letter to the leaders of the European Union and European countries calling for some reflection on the whole pandemic problem – he said.
– The fact that we had shortages in supplies, the fact that – as the president (German, Frank-Walter – ed.) Steinmeier said at the time – in Germany they are not able to produce respirators at the moment, because some of them are imported from Asia and there are no supplies, so everything is on hold to reflect on all of this and possibly share the production, he continued.
– Let something be produced in Poland, something will be produced in Germany, something will be produced in Italy, France, and Spain. So that, if necessary, within the European Union, we would be able to provide ourselves with security measures, respirators, everything that is needed to survive such a difficult moment, such a critical moment as the arrival of a pandemic – said the head of state.
“Let’s face it, it is potentially possible that we will have some more pandemics,” he said. He pointed out that “nobody can rule it out today”. “So I suggested making this reflection,” he explained.
He also admitted that in his speech before the United Nations, he “really spoke about solidarity”. – I must say that I am so proud and I could say it with a clear conscience, because we were divided to a great extent, we are sending vaccines from Poland to different countries all the time, we deliver them as part of the aid – he pointed out.
He added that recently – thanking the President of Uzbekistan for his help in the evacuation from Afghanistan – another shipment of coronavirus vaccines has been transferred to his country.
– I am glad that we shared it with others. Of course, I regret the fact that we are sharing because not all of us are willing to get vaccinated – he stressed. He admitted that “we also donate these vaccines so that they do not go to waste.” – However, I am glad that we are in solidarity, that we share with others – he repeated.
President on Nord Stream 2: it is bypassing the interests of Central Europe
Another topic in the conversation between President Andrzej Duda and Marcin Wrona was the issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the related international situation, including on the European energy market.
– The United States urged us not so long ago to buy gas from them, LNG, to our terminal in Świnoujście, to diversify supplies, to reduce Russian domination on the European gas market. So, apart from economic considerations, there were reasons of a strategic nature, precisely the diversification of supplies, security, this was the subject of our talks with the United States and the US authorities all the time – reminded the president.
– And then this Nord Stream 2 was blocked by the United States. Suddenly it’s unlocked, it’s under construction. I am asking – what is it? What is this American policy like, after all, he continued.
When asked by Marcin Wrona whether “the ball is now on the American side”, the president replied: – In my opinion, yes.
– We buy gas from the United States all the time because these are very long-term contracts, they are contracts lasting several dozen years, we are very pleased with this, because for us it is indeed a diversification of supplies, but we are fully aware of what Nord Stream 2 means. Nord Stream 2 means bypassing the interests of Central Europe, it is a threat to the security of Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland and other countries – said Andrzej Duda.
He added that in his opinion “this is strengthening the Russian dominance on the European gas market, ie the energy market”.
– I accepted it with great sadness, because when I talked to her some time ago, no one other than Chancellor Angela Merkel assured me that it was a purely business project, she only engaged herself in negotiations so that Russia could finish this gas pipeline. So it is, unfortunately, a tough, I would even say brutal policy, which in this case is a policy absolutely contradictory, in my opinion, not only with Polish interests (…) but generally contrary to the interests of Europe, but very much in favor of German and Russian interests – said President Andrzej Duda.
Main photo source: TVN24