Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has said that Estonia does not recognize the results of Belarusian elections on August 9 as they were rigged in favor of Alexander Lukashenko, who secured his sixth term as President of Belarus.
Reinsalu announced on social media on Tuesday: "The Government of the Republic of Estonia does not recognize Belarusian election results. The government's position is that due to election fraud, [Alexander] Lukashenko has lost his mandate."
He added that political dialogue must be created in Belarus in order to achieve honest and free elections.
Reinsalu added: "The government decided to allocate €100,000 to support Belarus's civil society. I will present specific projects soon."
The foreign minister also noted that a UN Security Council sitting will take place on Tuesday evening, where Estonia will raise the issue of Belarus.
Large-scale protests in Belarus started late on August 9, after the Belarusian Central Election Commission announced the results of the election showed Lukashenko, who has been in office since 1994, received 80 percent of the total votes with opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya winning only 10 percent.
An exit poll conducted in Tallinn and 25 major cities in Europe showed large-scale support for the opposition candidate among Belarusians living in Estonia, further legitimizing suspicions of vote-rigging.
On Wednesday, state leaders of the European Union will hold a video meeting with the main topic being Belarus. The foreign ministers of the EU have initiated proceedings regarding new sanctions against Belarusian authorities responsible for election fraud.
A statement released by the government on Tuesday afternoon said:
"Estonia does not recognise the results of the presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August, which were neither free nor fair. Estonia is of the opinion that Alexander Lukashenko has lost his mandate due to widespread falsification of election results.
"The Estonian government supports the will of the Belarusian people for change in the country and considers it important to hold new, free, and democratic elections.
"The government supports the introduction of targeted sanctions against those responsible for the violence and election fraud. At the same time, the government emphasises that the sanctions must not be to the detriment of ordinary Belarusian citizens.
"The European Union must discuss and focus on the situation in Belarus in international organisations, including the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe, and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The government believes that the emphasis must be on preventing a possible escalation of violence and finding a peaceful political solution that would lead to new elections.
"The Estonian government supports Belarusian civil society and free press, as well as greater support from the European Union. The government agreed with the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to support Belarusian civil society with €100,000."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Helen Wright