Reinsalu urges Belarus action on day of Latvian independence centennial

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Baltic States, the European Union and the entire free world have a responsibility in imploring the authorities in Belarus to halt repressions in the aftermath of Sunday's presidential election in that country, foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) says.

Speaking at an event in the Latvian capital marking the 100th anniversary of the Riga Peace Treaty, which ended the Latvian War of Independence resulting in a free Latvian state, Reinsalu joined his Latvian, Polish and Finnish counterparts, and called for calm after an election which returned incumbent Alexander Lukashenko for his sixth term as president in a process widely thought to have been rigged.

"In the light of the presidential elections in Belarus, we can see that attempts at moving towards democracy are under threat in the country, and very close to our borders," Reinsalu remarked, according to a foreign ministry press release.

"It is up to the EU and the free world as a whole, to pressure the Belarusian authorities to end their violence and to release all those detained for political reasons."

"I and my colleagues from Latvia, Finland and Poland have proposed calling an extraordinary session of the EU's Foreign Affairs Council this week," he added.

Other topics on the agenda at the meeting held at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the residence of that country's president included misinformation and the influence of the Russian Federation, in the EU and beyond, transatlantic relations and regional security. 

A united front in dealing with Russia and support of Ukraine, not least while the coronavirus pandemic continues, is essential, Reinsalu said.

In the historical context, Reinsalu noted precedents with the treaty signed in Riga a century ago. 

"A hundred years ago, Latvia reached an agreement with Russia that paved the way for Latvian statehood," he said. 

"Since then, Latvia, like Estonia, has had to face down Russian aggression and changes in the region. We have to be able to adapt to the changing world whilst honouring the principles we have fought for. I said the same thing in February when we marked the centenary of the Tartu Peace Treaty in Estonia," he said.

Videos of the press conferences and Treaty of Riga discussion, in English and Latvian, are here and here, and feature Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevičs , along with the foreign ministers of Finland (Pekka Haavisto) and Poland (Jacek Czaputowicz). 

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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