Belarus should not be a province of the Russian neo-empire

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (L) take part in the unveiling ceremony of the Rzhev Memorial to the Soviet Soldier near the village of Khoroshevo outside the town of Rzhev in the Tver region, Russia, 30 June 2020. [Kremlin pool/EPA/EFE]

On the eve of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council this Friday (14 August), there is need for urgent contacts between EU representatives and the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to clarify and resolve issues related to the political crisis in Belarus, writes Petro Poroshenko.

Petro Poroshenko is a Ukrainian businessman and politician who served as the 5th President of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019. 

These days, almost complete attention of Ukraine, Europe and the world is being focused on the developments in the neighboring Belarus, where a deeper political crisis is unfolding.

For Ukraine, and for me personally, Belarus has always been and will always be a country of a particular importance.

Belarusians are the traditional friends and partners of the Ukrainian people, being sincere, peaceful and decent brothers in blood and spirit.

A democratic and stable, prosperous and independent Belarus is one of the key elements for Ukraine’s security and prosperity.

Therefore, I cannot silently follow how Belarus is sliding into a maelstrom of chaos and of political uncertainty.

The Belarusian government has to find an answer to the demands of the Belarusian society, which strives and is ready for a democratic change in the life of their state.

There is no place for violence and mass repression in the modern civilized world.

I believe that the Belarusian authorities have to immediately stop exerting violence against their citizens and at the same time prevent any provocation and incitement to violence. This is the first.

Second, they have to release political prisoners and peaceful protesters from prisons and detention centers and stop persecuting political opponents.

Third, they have to ensure an inclusive and open dialogue between the authorities and Belarusian society. As well as to respect the right to freedom of media and expression, including ensuring an unimpeded access to the Internet.

Fourth, they have to announce early presidential elections in Belarus with the broad involvement of the ODIHR/OSCE and the Council of Europe, and to invite representatives of leading international organizations and structures to observe those elections, which would assist in confidence as regards the electoral process.

Fifth, I call on the Ukrainian authorities, in contact with the Lublin Triangle partners, to appoint a Special Representative for Belarus, who should actively assist in resolving the situation and reaffirm the strategic role of our state in the region. On the eve of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council this Friday, there is need for urgent contacts between EU representatives and the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to clarify and resolve issues related to the political crisis in Belarus.

Yet again I reiterate my call on the international community to watch closely after the activity of the Russian aggressor, who is there waiting for a comfortable opportunity to do away with the Belarusian statehood and independence.

I’m talking about this, because I know for sure that for a long time Ukraine was drawing away the aggressor’s attention.

Today, is it time for Europe to think and act strategically.

We have no right to lose Belarus. No one, neither the Belarusian authorities, nor the Belarusian people, neither the European Union, nor Ukraine, needs Belarus being a western province of the Russian neo-empire. We should not give any chance to the Kremlin’s plunder. The European Solidarity political party will continue to coordinate further actions with its international partners within the framework of the European People’s Party, the International Democratic Union and inter-party cooperation.

A European and democratic Belarusian state is in our common interest!

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