President Levits’ statement
During today’s meeting with leader of Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, we discussed three key issues: current situation in Belarus and future scenarios; how Latvia can support the democratic opposition in Belarus; international response and support to Belarusian opposition, especially from the side of the European Union (EU).
As far as situation in Belarus is concerned, Madam Tsikhanouskaya will expand on that in her comments, but we both concluded that Belarusian opposition is going strong. I admire people who continue to protest and fight the regime even despite persecutions that have been going on for more than two months. Our thoughts and hearts are with the Belarusian people.
The advantage of the Belarusian opposition is that it is well-coordinated and united, it speaks in one voice and has united Belarusian people around these demands and lead them towards the goal. Belarusian opposition must remain united to achieve its democratic goals and replace the current regime.
The position of Latvia is this. Latvia does not consider Alexander Lukashenko the legitimate president of Belarus. We support the demands of Belarusian opposition and Madam Tsikhanouskaya to hold free and democratic elections.
Latvia has adopted its national sanction list, a targeted list of Belarusian officials, and we can expand this list when necessary. Together with our counterparts in Lithuania and Poland we advocated at the EU level for a similar position and support to the Belarusian opposition. And EU adopted its sanction list. But we should also consider the need to expand this list and sanctions regimes, as Madam Tsikhanouskaya has suggested.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that Latvia fully supports the Belarusian people, we support the democratic opposition in Belarus and its demands for democratic elections and democracy with all democratic rights and civil liberties.
I consider Madam Tsikhanouskaya the real leader of the Belarusian nation. I wish her and the whole Belarusian nation all the best. May democracy prevail in Belarus!
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s statement
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me today to meet the president of the country, which is one of the most supportive and helpful in our fight for democratic and free Belarus. Latvia was one the first countries that opened the humanitarian corridor for the people who were badly injured during protests. It was one of the first countries, which did not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate president. It is also one of the 17 countries that invoked the Moscow Mechanism, and now we have report on this Moscow Mechanism that we can use to start international investigation on crimes committed in Belarus during the past three months.
Despite protest movements in Belarus being peaceful, the violence from the regime is increasing constantly. Yesterday’s accident when 31-year old man who was beaten to death, who was in coma and died in hospital, showed us that we have to be stronger and stronger in our opposition. Demonstrations in Belarus are continuing, strikes are continuing and protest movement is continuing in Belarus, but now we see that the help of other countries has to be more active as well.
So, as we see, the pressure on this regime is the only peaceful way out of our situation, so we would like Europe, the European countries to be more vocal about our situation. Sanction list imposed has to be widened, and more, targeted economic sanctions have to be imposed against officials, political figures and state enterprises, which support the regime.
And, of course, we are discussion now the cancellation of the Ice Hockey Championship 2021 in Minsk. Actually, it has to be cancelled because such championship cannot be held in countries where human rights are violated, people are humiliated and tortured in jails.
We will continue to fight for the future of Belarus and I hope that European countries will be more vocal about the situation, will give stronger messages and be braver in their decisions - as brave as Belarusian people are.
Thank you once again, Mr President, for this meeting. I am sure that together we will win this fight for freedom and democracy in Belarus.