Rule of Law in Poland: Memory Politics and Belarusian Minority

In recent years, the Verfassungsblog has commented extensively on the decline of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland. While most of the contributors have unfolded the dramatic changes regarding judicial independence in these countries, two facets of this decline, in my view, have not received sufficient attention in light of the ongoing constitutional discussion in Europe, namely regarding memory politics and protection of ethnic minorities. With this entry, I would like to initiate the discussion about “mnemonic constitutionalism” on Verfassungsblog, as Poland has recently supplied a paradigmatic example of how memory laws affect national minorities and symptomize the decline of liberal democracy. By virtue of the so-called “de-communization law” (Law No. 744 of April 2016), local administrations are obliged to identify public objects (e.g. street or building names) that glorify communist past or personalities. One of the recent targets for the local administration has become Branisłaŭ Taraškievič (or Bronisław Taraszkiewicz in Polish transliteration), a prominent Belarusian linguist, after whom a street and a school are named in eastern Poland, a region with a high concentration of the Belarusian minority. Ironically, Taraškievič was tortured by the NKVD in the 1930s and died as a victim of Stalinist repressions.

Memory Laws for Memory Wars

The obsession of the Fidesz’s Hungary and PiS’s Poland with historical memory has been well documented elsewhere. To give but a few examples, the new constitution of Hungary emphasises the heroic history of the Magyar nation, portraying the country as an innocent victim attacked by two totalitarian regimes. Equally, Poland has made multiple attempts to criminalize defamation of the Polish nation, in a way similar to the crime of denigration of Turkishness in Turkey ...

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Russia and Ukraine: Memory Wars and Memory Laws | Dr Maria Mälksoo | Think Kent

► SEARCH for a course at the University of Kent: ► STUDY at Brussels School of International Studies: ► Research at Kent: ► SUBSCRIBE for more Think Kent lectures: THINK KENT – INTERNATIONAL THINKERS | GLOBAL IMPACT Should states 'secure' their historical memories by means of law? Drawing on examples from the ongoing 'memory wars' in Eastern Europe, Dr Maria Mälksoo, Senior Lecturer in International Security at Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies, puts forth the argument that the attempts to protect historical memory by 'memory laws' tend to reproduce and amplify rather than alleviate the existing security concerns. Issues of historical remembrance should be allowed to live in the political realm, or that of speech. ABOUT DR MARIA MÄLKSOO Dr Maria Mälksoo is Senior Lecturer in International Security at the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), University of Kent at Brussels. She convenes the MA programme in International Conflict and Security and teaches various modules on security and foreign policy analysis at the BSIS. Her main research interests are at the intersection of security, memory and identity politics, and critical IR theory. She is the author of ‘The Politics of Becoming European: A Study of Polish and Baltic Post-Cold War Security Imaginaries’ (Routledge, 2010) and a co-author of ‘Remembering Katyn’ (Polity, 2012), and has published her research on social theoretic perspectives of the EU and NATO's eastern enlargement, liminality in IR, and the conflicts over historical memory between Russia and its former Soviet/East European dependants in various IR journals and edited volumes. ► Find out more about Dr Maria Mälksoo: Find the University of Kent on social media: ► Facebook: ► Twitter: ► Instagram: ► LinkedIn:

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