I am disturbed by Rowland Evans and Robert D. Novak's implication that 400,000 ethnic Poles in Belarus "are hostages" [op-ed, Nov. 29].

At the Istanbul summit, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said: "It is with a justifiable sense of pride that I can say here that Belarus is a country in which there are no conflicts between persons of different nationalities or different religions. In our country, all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs and nationality, enjoy absolutely equal rights."

We recently received a letter from the Council of Polish Communities in Europe that thanked Belarus for creating appropriate conditions for the development of the Polish minority.

The op-ed article also promoted stereotypes regarding the character of integration between Belarus and Russia--e.g., forming a union to pursue "chauvinistic foreign policy." Belarus voluntarily abandoned its status as a nuclear power and saw to the withdrawal from its territory of all nuclear weapons. Its initiative to create a nuclear-free zone in Central and Eastern Europe so far has elicited no response from "weaker states along Russia's borders."

Belarusian leaders believe that the European Union must become a "common home" for all European nations, and until this happens other integrated structures should be developed. The union of Belarus and Russia is one of them; it is not directed against other countries and is open for them to join.



Embassy of the Republic of Belarus