Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) made a speech Wednesday at an open high-level virtual sitting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), addressing the pandemic and the challenges of sustaining peace, in which he raised the issue of the post-election demonstrations in Belarus.
Reinsalu said: "From the outset, please allow me to say few words about the very worrying situation in Belarus. The presidential elections in Belarus on Sunday cannot be considered free, fair and democratic. As a result we are now witnessing unprecedented nationwide protests and excessive use of force by the government. Let me underline that violent crackdown of peaceful protests is unacceptable."
The foreign minister added: "We call on Belarus to immediately end political repressions against the opposition, to avoid any further violence and to uphold respect for human rights."
In addition, Reinsalu spoke about the effects of COVID-19 on crisis hotspots where the pandemic puts an additional burden on already fragile situations.
"Estonia, together with other EU countries, has pledged its continued commitment to UN peacekeeping during the pandemic. We urge others, in particular large troop and financial contributors, to follow suit."
Reinsalu noted: "For peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities to be truly sustainable, we need political will and a strong sense of ownership from governments and local communities. Peacebuilding processes need to be inclusive, taking into account the views of local peacebuilders, especially women and youth that are often at the forefront of such activities as well as the ones most affected by the conflict."
The debate "Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Pandemic and the Challenges of Sustaining Peace" was held as part of the Indonesian presidency of the United Nations Security Councli and also included as participants incumbent Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres and former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.
Estonia holds a non-permanent UNSC seat, 2020-2021.
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.
On August 12, the foreign ministers of eight Baltic and Nordic countries issued a joint statement condemning the violent suppression of protests after Lukashenko secured his sixth term as president of Belarus.
On the same day, the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the Parliaments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland also 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. The full statement can be read here.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste