Poland’s foreign minister quits amid Belarus crisis

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz attends a news conference following the talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Warsaw, Poland

Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz has resigned, the ministry said on Thursday, the second ministerial resignation in a week as Poland tries to play a leading role in the EU response to a political crisis in neighbouring in Belarus.

Czaputowicz had signalled in July he may quit, as the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party announced it plans some personnel changes in the government during a reshuffle in the autumn that could see the number of ministries reduced.

His exit comes at an important moment for Polish foreign policy, as Warsaw has sought to push the EU to take an active diplomatic stance towards Belarus, a close Russian ally whose borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are major NATO frontiers.

Thousands of people have demonstrated in Belarus against official election results that showed President Alexander Lukashenko re-elected in an Aug. 9 vote the opposition says was rigged. The EU has announced financial sanctions against Belarusian officials it blames for vote fraud.

Belarus has blamed the protests on foreign interference and said it is reinforcing its Western borders. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday he was not concerned by the situation on the frontier, and the EU should act to reduce Belarus’s economic dependence on Russia.

The resignation of Poland’s foreign minister comes two days after the departure of Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski, who left amid rising daily coronavirus infection rates.

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