Updated at 14:48,20-09-2021

Warsaw pledges to continue supporting independent media in Belarus

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Warsaw pledges to continue supporting independent media in Belarus
Poland will continue supporting independent media organizations and pro-democratic efforts in Belarus, according to Joanna Wajda, spokesperson for the Polish foreign ministry.

"We believe that freedom of speech, freedom of expression, tolerance and political pluralism are the best means of Belarusian society's development," the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita quoted her as saying.

Commenting on Warsaw's reported plans to cut funding for Belsat TV or even shut it down altogether, Ms. Wajda said that there were only plans to "modernize and reform" the Belarusian-language channel. She suggested that it could become part of Poland's state-owned TV network whose broadcasts were intended for audiences abroad.

As much as $52 million was spent on Belsat TV between 2007 and 2015, with most of the money coming out of the Polish budget, said Ms. Wajda, confirming that Warsaw intended to reduce funding for the channel "as there is a need to carry out other priority programs."

No final decision on Belsat TV's future has yet been made, she stressed.

In an interview published on Monday, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski described Belsat TV as inefficient and acknowledged that it may cease to exist altogether.

Belsat TV started broadcasting on December 10, 2007 under an agreement between Polish Public Television (TVP) and the Polish foreign ministry.

The channel describes its mission as providing "accurate and independent coverage of events in Belarus, Europe and the rest of the world."