Foreign minister in phone call to exiled Belarusian opposition leader ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: ERR

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) spoke to Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Thursday, expressing his concern about the situation in that country in the wake of repressions of non-violent demonstrators.

Reinsalu explained Estonia's views of the events in Belarus and emphasized the need to find a solution to the crisis through political dialogue, which could lead to new and free elections.

The minister also expressed concern about the news of the launching of criminal proceedings against the members of the Coordination Council of Belarus.

Tikhanovskaya thanked the Estonian state and people for their strong support in helping to resolve the crisis in Belarus peacefully, while defending democracy and human rights.

Tikhanovskaya has sought refuge in Lithuania, following the reelection of Alexander Lukashenko to a sixth term as president, in elections widely condemned as rigged. She ran as a candidate in place of her husband was imprisoned after standing as a candidate against Lukashenko.

A crackdown on protests in Minsk and other cities in Belarus, which has seen over 7,000 people arrested by the Belarusian authorities' own estimates, has been met with demonstrations internationally, including two in Tallinn and one in Tartu, in the days since the elections took place on August 9.

Reinsalu calls on Belarusian opposite number to push for protester release

Reinsalu also spoke to his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei on Thursday, the foreign ministry says, calling on Belarusian authorities to release detained protesters and refrain from using violence against peaceful protesters still out and about.

Reinsalu set out the position of Estonia on not recognising the results of the elections in Belarus, and emphasised the importance of political dialogue which he hopes would lead to an agreement on holding new elections in Belarus.

The two ministers also discussed the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) initiative for resolving the political crisis, with Reinsalu expressing his hope that the Belarusian authorities would be supportive.

Reinsalu reaffirmed that the national sovereignty of Belarus was important for Estonia, and futher elucidated Estonia's motives for holding a discussion on the crisis at the UN Security Council level, where it holds a non-permanent seat.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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