Baltic and Polish foreign committees call Belarus to end use of force

Toompea, seat of the Riigikogu.
Toompea, seat of the Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

In a joint statement, the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the Parliaments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have called on Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners as well as those illegitimately detained in the wake of the recent presidential elections in that country, and to initiate a social dialogue for much-expected changes.

Enn Eesmaa (Center), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, said in a press release: "By depriving the citizens of the right to free elections, the general standards of democracy and human rights are ignored. With colleagues, we condemn such activities and underline that we are consistently ready to support the well-being of Belarusian society as well as the sovereignty of the Belarusian state."

The joint statement also points out that the right of free election is a fundamental value of democracy, and freedom of speech and assembly are among the fundamental human rights.

As written in the statement: "The activities that we are observing do not fit within the democratic standards."

The foreign affairs committees conclude: "We are convinced that following the path of dialogue and reforms will contribute to the development of Belarus, further deepening of good-neighbourly relations between Belarus and the countries of our region, as well as the revival of fruitful relations with the European Union. We are ready to support these efforts by seeking constructive solutions for our common future."

The statement is signed by Zbigniew Rau of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Juozas Bernatonis of the Seimas (Lithuania), Rihards Kols from the Saeima (Latvia) and Enn Eesmaa of the Riigikogu.

The full statement can be read here.

Eight foreign ministers of Baltic and Nordic countries also issued a statement earlier on Tuesday regarding Belarus, condemning the violent suppression of protests and calling for a stop to the persecution of people based on political views and to immediately release all who have been unfairly detained.

Elections in Belarus

After elections in Belarus on Sunday, August 9, large protests have been held in the city to demonstrate dissatisfaction against the sixth term of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarusian Central Election Commission said the results of the election showed Lukashenko, who has been in office since 1994, received 80.23 percent of the total votes with Tikhanovskaya winning only 9.9 percent. The results sparked protests across Belarus on Sunday night which saw clashes between police and protesters.

An exit poll conducted in Tallinn and 25 major cities in Europe showed large-scale support for opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya among Belarusians living in Estonia, further legitimizing suspicions of vote-rigging.

After Belarusian authorities restricted internet access on Monday, ERR's Moscow correspondent Anton Aleksejev, currently in Minsk, told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera", via a phone call on Tuesday that journalists on the streets of Belarus' capital disappear because the authorities are restricting freedom of speech.

On August 11, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Vyacheslav Kachanov, the Ambassador of Belarus to the Republic of Estonia, to account in regard to the violent suppression of protests following the elections.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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