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Polish, Baltic FMs pledge continued support for democratic forces in Belarus

09.08.2023 21:30
The Polish and Baltic foreign ministers have marked three years since "the rigged presidential election" in Belarus, pledging continued support for the country's democratic opposition.
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell

"Three years ago, on 9 August 2020, Alexander Lukashenko proclaimed himself the winner of the rigged presidential election, thereby trampling on the democratic aspirations and rights of the Belarusian people," the Polish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian foreign ministers said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

"This criminal seizure of power by the illegitimate regime has since resulted in massive internal repression, complicity in the war crimes and the crime of aggression, rapid erosion of Belarus’ sovereignty, as well as destabilization of the region," they added.

Poland's top diplomat Zbigniew Rau and his Baltic counterparts also said in their statement that "massive electoral fraud" in Belarus sparked an "unprecedented wave of peaceful protests by the Belarusian people who demanded the freedom to choose their future."

They noted that the Belarusian authorities in response "unleashed a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters and their supporters."

"For three years now, notwithstanding the firm condemnation by the international community, the Lukashenko regime continues its steadily worsening inhumane repression," the four foreign ministers said.

"Human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, media workers, lawyers and ordinary citizens who express criticism of the system are labelled extremists and terrorists, persecuted, blackmailed, imprisoned; several have disappeared or been killed in the government's attempts to crush resistance to its illegitimate rule," they added.

'Accomplice and direct supporter' of Russian aggression in Ukraine

The statement also said that since February last year the Lukashenko regime "has been acting as an accomplice and direct supporter of Russia's unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine."

"Ignoring the will of the vast majority of the Belarusian people, the regime grants Moscow full political and logistical support, allows it to use Belarusian territory as a launchpad for its missiles, for the deployment of nuclear weapons, and recently accepted to host thousands of criminal Wagner mercenaries on its soil," according to the statement.

The Polish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian foreign ministers accused the Lukashenko regime of being an "accomplice in the forced deportations of Ukrainian children, thus being directly complicit in the war crime to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court."

In the last three years, Belarus "has been made into a true hotbed of destabilisation in the heart of Europe and poses an increasing threat to the international security," the four top diplomats said, adding that the regime in Belarus "continues to organise and contribute to activities that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU's external borders of third country nationals."

"At this particularly painful moment in Belarusian history we continue to stand with its people, staying true to the commitment expressed in the historic motto 'For our Freedom and Yours,'" the Polish and Baltic foreign ministers said.

They declared: "We believe in democratic, independent, and sovereign Belarus, as much as we believe in the victory of Ukraine. Our support to the people of Belarus, struggling for their freedom and dignity, will remain unwavering. We will continue supporting the democratic forces of Belarus ... as well as other representatives of the civil society that rally in pursuit of democratic changes in Belarus."

They reiterated their "call for the immediate and unconditional release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners, for the cessation of repression and of complicity in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine."

In a separate message of support to the Belarusian people, Poland's top diplomat said on Wednesday that his country "has become a safe haven" for thousands of Belarusians during the last three years.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Wednesday is day 532 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: gov.pl, IAR, PAP