WARSAW (Reuters) – Belarus summoned the Polish charge d’affaires in Minsk to inform him about the expulsion of a Polish diplomat, Warsaw said on Wednesday.
Tensions have been running high between the neighbours over a migrant crisis that the European Union and Poland say was engineered by Belarus, a charge Minsk denies.
Warsaw also accuses President Alexander Lukashenko’s government of oppressing Belarus’ small Polish ethnic minority.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms the fact that the charge d’affaires was called in a case related to the expulsion of a Polish consul,” spokesman Lukasz Jasina said in a statement.
Jasina said the expelled diplomat was the Polish consul in the border city of Brest.
The Belarusian foreign ministry said the consul’s expulsion is related to the diplomat’s efforts to help a Polish citizen, suspected in the death of two people in a road accident, to leave Belarus. It gave no more details on the incident.
The Polish citizen was detained by Belarusian border guards on Monday, the ministry’s spokesman, Anatoly Glaz, said in a statement.
“We have established that the escape attempt was initiated and organised by the employees of the Consulate General of Poland in Brest,” Glaz said.
“We sincerely hope that this is an isolated case that does not characterise the Polish Foreign Ministry as a whole. At the same time, we do not see an opportunity to continue the work of such a consular officer on the territory of Belarus,” he said.
Polish officials say they are trying to verify the information.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish in Warsaw and Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv; Editing by Alex Richardson, Gareth Jones and Leslie Adler)