European Parliament Urged to Stand by the People of Belarus

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Photo: European Parliament
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Photo: European Parliament

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged MEPs (Members of European Parliament) on Monday (September 21) to continue supporting the creation of a new Belarus “admired by the world.”

In her address to Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Subcommittee on Human Rights, Ms Tsikhanouskaya reiterated that the ongoing Belarusian uprising is not a “geopolitical revolution, it is neither pro-Russian nor anti-Russian, not pro-EU nor anti-EU, it is simply pro-Belarus and a democratic revolution.”

In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin had extended military support to Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, as demonstrations persist in Belarus against Lukashenko’s re-election.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya underlined that a new Belarus has emerged since the summer, led by women, which will seek to become a “reliable partner”, based on the rule of law, and respected by the world.

“Our fight is a fight for freedom, for democracy, and for human dignity. It is exclusively peaceful and non-violent. We demand only three basic things: the release of all political prisoners, an end to police violence, and to conduct new, free, and fair elections,” she said.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who spoke alongside other members of the Belarusian democratic opposition Volha Kavalkova and Pavel Latushka, also urged MEPs and the EU to continue showing solidarity with the people of Belarus and to support the Belarusian civil society and media, which remain under constant pressure from the regime.

“Together we can create a new Belarus admired by the world. We stand and will stand united, because our future is at stake. We also ask you to stand united alongside the Belarusian people and we need your support,” she said.

Most MEPs praised the courageous actions of the Belarusian political opposition and the country’s citizens in the face of a brutal and repressive regime. Some issued stark reminders to the EU to not become a passive player vis-à-vis the struggle in Belarus and move from statements to actions. This also includes the matter of sanctions, on which EU governments so far have not been able to agree.

The majority of speakers reiterated the main messages of the European Parliament’s latest resolution on Belarus, adopted on 17 September. In the text, MEPs called for new elections to be held, new sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko and his regime, while pointing out that Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who was the main democratic contender in the elections, is considered by many Belarusians to be the real winner of the vote and the country’s real president-elect.

European Parliament President David Sassoli also held a bilateral meeting with Ms Tsikhanouskaya on September 21.

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Rakesh Raman