Liimets: Merkel told us about call with Lukashenko in advance
Germany told Estonia and other countries in advance about Chancellor Angela Merkel's call with Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said on Tuesday.
"Indeed, we received advanced notice from the Federal Chancellor's office about the upcoming call. So we were aware of developments in this regard," Liimets told ERR.
Merkel's call on Monday (November 15) was the first communication between a western leader and Lukashenko since Belarus' rigged presidential elections in August 2020. The EU has agreed it does not see Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus.
It has also applied sanctions to the country and officials following a brutal crackdown by Lukashenko and the security services on opposition protestors and civil society. These are currently being extended.
Asked how this situation - a western leader speaking to Lukashenko - should be dealt with, Liimets said: "It is very important that we take united and real steps to try to influence Belarus. And in this regard, it is gratifying to note that the sanction mechanisms agreed by EU foreign ministers yesterday were united across all Member States. Germany included."
She said it is unacceptable to exploit migrants and to use people as a political weapon. "We consider it very important that this is also presented to the Belarussian authorities in a unified manner," Liimets said.
On Monday, Chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson (Reform) called the call "disappointing". On Tuesday morning, President Alar Karis said: "The call was somewhat surprising. But the line of unity must be maintained. Europe is united."
Liimets was also asked about the EU's latest round of sanctions. The minister said they are still being discussed between EU members and she could not say exactly when they would take effect.
The legal framework around sanctions was extended on Monday so officials and businesses involved in bringing migrants to Belarus can be sanctioned.
"We assume that this sanctions package includes all those persons who have been directly involved in this activity in recent months," Liimets told ERR.
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Editor: Helen Wright