Estonia to appoint ambassador to cooperate with Belarusian opposition

Flags of Estonia and Free Belarus.
Flags of Estonia and Free Belarus. Source: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said on Monday Estonia plans to appoint an "ambassador at large" to cooperate and strengthen ties with the Belarusian opposition.

Reinsalu was speaking during Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's one-day visit to Tallinn.

A statement after the meeting said Estonia wishes to step up cooperation with the democratic opposition of Belarus, which has its main center in Vilnius.

"We plan to appoint an ambassador at large to Vilnius for contacts with the democratic forces of Belarus in Vilnius," the foreign minister was quoted as saying.

After the meeting, Tikhanovskaya wrote on social media that she thanked the minister "for sending a diplomatic representative to Vilnius to work with democratic Belarus".

Reinsalu said Estonia will continue to support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian opposition and civil society to make sure that violations of human rights and international law do not go unnoticed.

In recent weeks, Belarus has demanded Estonia reduce its embassy staff in Minsk to one and said it will reciprocate.

The regime was annoyed by Reinsalu's decision to give Tikhanovskaya a platform at the United Nations General Assembly.

Tikhanovskaya, who is based in Vilnius in exile, also met with President Alar Karis and addressed the Riigikogu during her visit. 

Uramas Reinsalu and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Source: Välisministeerium

Belarusians deserve to live in a democratic country

"My country is actually under occupation, held hostage by two bloodthirsty dictators," Tikhanovskaya told MPs in the Riigikogu.

"Despite the unprecedented terror, Belarusians have continued their struggle for more than two years. Many thousands paid with their freedom, and some with their lives. By their struggle, Belarusians proved that they deserve to live in a democratic country."

Tikhanovskaya said the fate of Belarus is strongly connected with Ukraine's fate, encouraged MPs to keep supporting the country and additional sanctions.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya addressing the Riigikogu on October 24, 2022. Source: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu

"Nothing will be a greater sanction for Putin than a Free Belarus," Tikhanovskaya said.

She added that without a free Belarus, there will be no safe Ukraine and no security in Europe.

The politician also called for international tribunals to be established against Lukashenko and Putin. "We need to unite again to free Europe from tyrants," she said.

Watch the press conference between Reinsalu and Tikhanovskaya below.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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