Estonian MP: Merkel-Lukashenko phone call 'disappointing'

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Marko Mihkelson
Marko Mihkelson Source: ERR

Monday's telephone call between outgoing Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko was "disappointing", the chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee has said.

Speaking on ETV's foreign affairs show "Välisilm" on Monday evening, Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said EU leaders speaking with Lukashenko lends him credibility as the legitimate president of Belarus.

"Without knowing the background, it is a disappointment, a serious disappointment, because we [the EU] have taken a common position that we will not recognize Lukashenko as the head of state of Belarus," he said.

"This kind of contact with Merkel leaves a rather strange impression, and besides, she bypassed Poland, and that is something that would make a good impression on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."

EU leaders have not spoken with Lukashenko since August 2020 after claims of mass vote-rigging in Belarus' presidential election. Subsequent opposition protests were brutally suppressed by the Belarusian security services. The EU then applied sanctions on the country and its leadership.

In the phone call between Merkel and Lukashenko the pair discussed humanitarian aid for refugees and migrants stranded at the EU-Belarus border, a German government spokesperson said, according to Reuters news agency.

For more than a week, thousands of migrants, mostly from the middle east, have been massing on the Belarusian side of the border wanting to cross into Poland.

Since June, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland have seen thousands of migrants try and cross their borders with Belarus. In May, Lukashenko threatened to send "migrants and drugs" to Europe after sanctions were placed on the country by the EU.

EU officials say the Minsk regime is responsible for facilitating and enabling irregular migration, calling it "hybrid aggression". On Monday, the Baltic presidents branded these actions "human trafficking".

The EU is currently discussing additional sanctions for Belarusian officials and businesses which encourage migration into Europe.

President: "Europe is united"

President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas at the press conference on November 16, 2021. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Speaking at a press conference in Tallinn on Tuesday morning, both President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) emphasized Europe is united when it comes to Belarus.

Asked by a journalist what they thought of the call between Merkel and Lukashenko, Kallas said: "Putin and Lukashenko want to show that the EU is not united. But we are."

Karis said: "The call was somewhat surprising. But the line of unity must be maintained. Europe is united."

The press conference was called to discuss the convening of Estonia's National Defense Council to discuss the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border.

Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) and Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) were also present.  

Later on Tuesday morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said Germany told Estonia and other countries in advance about the call between Merkel and Lukashenko.

Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Alar Karis and Kaja Kallas.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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