The people of Belarus must decide that country's future, via the means of free and fair democratic participation, and not the brutal repression of the Alexander Lukashenko regime, the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland said in a statement Monday.
Presidents Egils Levits (Latvia), Gitanas Nausėda (Lithuania) and Andrzej Duda (Poland) joined President Kersti Kaljulaid in condeming the violation of human rights in Belarus, and the deteriorating situation on that country's border with the EU, namely Lithuania, Poland and Latvia and the thousands of illegal migrants who have crossed into those three countries from Belarus over the past several weeks.
Meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine Monday, the four heads of state issued a joint declaration stating that the will of the Belarusian people should be the main guideline for shaping the future of that country, and not the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
The statement notes the latter was returned to power in elections just over a year ago which were not carried out in a free and fair way and were followed by a brutal crackdown on dissenters which lasts to the present
The most recent development is the migrant crisis, which the statement says is exploiting vulnerable people from third countries as a form of hybrid warfare on Lithuania and the rest of the EU.
The presidents also issued a clarion call to the Belarusian nation in being permitted national dialog and the freedom to choose their own destiny, without fear, and within the spirit of the Helsinki Final Act - referring to the Helsinki Accords of 1975, signed by most European countries plus the U.S. and Canada and in the spirit of détente with the Soviet Union, whose successor states are in effect both Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation and Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus.
The full declaration as provided to ERR News by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia reads as follows:
Joint Statement of the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland on Belarus
August 23 2021, Kyiv
A year ago, in August 2020, the citizens of Belarus hoped that they have the right to determine the future of their country in free elections. The Belarusian authorities did not listen to their voices. Participants in a peaceful popular movement, unprecedented in recent history of the country, have been punished by imprisonment, exile or silencing. Hope has been replaced by fear and spreading repressions. We stand in solidarity with all the people of Belarus, who are restricted in their rights in their homeland.
We witness with growing concern the violation of the rights of Belarus' citizens abroad. The Ryanair flight 4978 forced landing was an act of state hijacking and an unprecedented violation of international law, and shall not be tolerated.
Since June, we have been facing hybrid attacks on the EU and NATO's eastern borders. Vulnerable citizens from third countries are being used to fuel illegal border crossings from Belarus. This is not a migrant crisis but a politically orchestrated hybrid operation by Alexander Lukashenko's regime to divert attention from the regime's growing human and civil rights abuses. We condemn this unacceptable behavior. Futile pressure and reckless actions will not change our agreed policy on the crisis in Belarus.
We appreciate our EU partners and NATO allies for their solidarity, political and operational support in stopping hybrid attacks. Efforts made by the European Commission and EU agencies to stem irregular migration are of utmost importance. Additionally, we seek continued cooperation as well as sustainable solutions with Iraq and other countries in order to stop malicious scheme of human smuggling.
We extend our deepest sympathies to te 631 political prisoners [as of August 13] and their relatives. All political prisoners must be released and their rights restored.
We actively support all international initiatives aimed at tackling impunity in Belarus. In the spirit of the Helsinki Final Act, the people of Belarus must be given the freedom to choose their democratic future. The only way to end the political crisis is inclusive national dialogue leading to free and fair elections.
Since October 2020, the EU has progressively imposed sanctions against Belarussian regime. We welcome the recent sanctions by our NATO allies the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. Further cooperation with our partners and allies continues to impose additional sanctions against the Belarus authorities.
We – the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – stand in solidarity against the aggressive and destabilizing behavior of Alexander Lukashenko and the Belarus' authorities. We remain convinced that the will of the Belarusian nation should be the main guideline for shaping the future of the Republic of Belarus.
President of the Republic of Estonia
President of the Republic of Latvia
President of the Republic of Lithuania
President of the Republic of Poland
Editor: Andrew Whyte