The foreign affairs committee of the Riigikogu on Tuesday expressed support for an idea to draft a statement in support of Belarus. The speaker of the Riigikogu denied there was a split in views over Belarus within the coalition.
The chairman of the foreign affairs committee Enn Eesmaa (Center) said the idea to set up a workgroup for drafting the statement was supported by representatives of all party groups in the standing committee.
Eesmaa said: "We have been addressing the issue of Belarus in the Riigikogu consistently. We hope to adopt the statement concerning the current developments in the plenary as quickly as possible."
Deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee Marko Mihkelson recalled that in 2006, the Riigikogu adopted a similar statement expressing support for democracy in Belarus.
"The situation in Belarus, in our close neighborhood, affects also the security of Estonia. Violence directed against citizens and neglect of the organization of fair and free elections cannot be ignored, we intend to emphasize this also in the statement of the Riigikogu," the opposition Reform Party MP said.
The foreign affairs committee was briefed by Lembit Uibo, director general of the Foreign Ministry's political department, on the activities of the EU in connection with the latest developments in Belarus. An overview of Estonia's activities in the UN Security Council was offered to the MPs by the deputy head of the Estonian permanent representation to the UN, Gert Auvaart.
Põlluaas: No rift in ruling coalition over Belarus
There is no rift in the ruling three-party coalition over the topic of support for Belarus, speaker of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) said on Tuesday.
"Our MPs last week supported the statement of the foreign affairs committee on Belarus and helped to formulate it, the government today issued a powerful statement (EKRE is a member of the government too, by the way) saying that the election result is not legitimate," Põlluaas, MP from the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE), said on Facebook.
Polluaas also pointed out that on Tuesday, EKRE MPs in the parliamentary foreign affairs committee supported the convocation of an extraordinary sitting of the Riigikogu to adopt a statement on Belarus and are taking part in the drafting of the statement.
"I, as the chairman of the Riigikogu, declared that I will definitely support it and will convene the meeting at the earliest opportunity," the speaker of the Estonian parliament said.
"It has been the position of EKRE throughout that all sort of violence must end, potential intervention by Russia is absolutely not acceptable, new and fair elections have to be organized under the control of monitors, and the will of the people of Belarus has to be respected and taken into account. This is the only way possible," Polluaas added.
Social Democratic Party hails goverment's stance on events in Belarus
MPs of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) in the parliament of Estonia have voiced appreciation of the clear stance taken by the government with regard to the events in Belarus and the government's decision to provide assistance to the civil society of Belarus.
While the decisions of the government are a step in the right direction, several steps further have to be taken now, the SDE MPs said on Tuesday.
According to the MPs, Estonia must be much more active as a member of the UN Security Council in raising the issue of Belarus.
"We must emphasize that the people of Belarus have the sovereign right to themselves decide about their fate and the direction for their country, and it must not be hijacked by any dictator, let alone by any external power that wants to keep Belarus in its sphere of influence," the party said in a statement.
Estonia must also stand up for the EU sending a clear and unambiguous message at the Council: the use of violence against the people of Belarus standing up for their rights and against dictatorship will not be left unpunished by the international community, and the use of military force or threatening with its use by external powers cannot be accepted, according to the MPs.
SDE finds that the Estonian government must formulate a clear stance and a policy as regards people who may need a safe refuge in EU member states in the nearest future, among other places here in Estonia. Estonia must unequivocally express its readiness to offer to such people the possibility to escape repressions by the authorities of Belarus if the situation requires it.
Besides, Estonia should consider offering additional assistance to the Belarus opposition, such as for opening a representation for Northern Europe in Tallinn if this is perceived necessary.
In 1991, Estonia benefited significantly from the representations it had in Finland and in Sweden, SDE said.
SDE also denounced statements justifying the authorities of Belarus made by some members of the Estonian Center Party.
The Estonian government on Tuesday discussed the situation in Belarus and confirmed in a statement that Estonia supports the will of the Belarusian people for change and that Alexander Lukashenko has lost his mandate due to widespread falsification of election results.
"Estonia does not recognize the results of the presidential elections in Belarus on August 9, 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 statement by the government reads.
The Estonian government supports Belarusian civil society and free press, as well as greater support from the European Union. The government agreed with a proposal of the minister of foreign affairs to support Belarusian civil society with €100,000.
The issue was also raised by Estonia and the United States at the United Nations Security Council by Reinsalu on Tuesday.
Editor: Helen Wright