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Ending a working visit to Poland, PACE President calls for a co-ordinated, rights-based response to the situation on Poland’s border with Belarus

PACE President Rik Daems has ended a three-day working visit to Poland, during which he met the Speakers of both Chambers of the Polish Parliament (Sejm and Senate), held talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau and other senior officials from the government, and held exchanges with members of the Sejm and Senate, as well as the Polish delegation to PACE.

On 7 October, Mr Daems addressed the Senate during its plenary sitting. In his intervention, the PACE President focused on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Poland. While welcoming the positive developments highlighted in the recent GREVIO national report, he encouraged further implementation of the Convention in national policy and practice. He also addressed the ongoing issue of the reform of the judiciary, stressing that such reforms should respect and strengthen judicial independence and the rule of law. The President also strongly encouraged the Polish authorities to support stronger anti-hate and anti-discrimination legislation in Poland.

Mr Daems particularly referred to the critical situation on Poland’s border with Belarus, specifically referring to Assembly Resolution 2404 (2021) on ‘Instrumentalised migration pressure on the borders of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with Belarus’. The PACE President condemned the situation and called for it to be urgently addressed “in a holistic, integrated manner through the means of enhanced regional and European co-operation, while fully upholding human rights and humanitarian principles as well as refugee law and the right to seek asylum”.

On 6 October, the PACE President spoke at the Warsaw Security Forum, where he stressed the need to promote regional and European co-operation as a response to hybrid conflicts.

During his stay in Warsaw, Mr Daems also met with Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarus opposition, with whom he discussed practical ways to stimulate democratic transformation in Belarus and the important role to be played by PACE in this process.