On Thursday, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda spoke on BBC HARDtalk where he said Lithuania “feels the pain of those people in the streets” of Belarus.
“We are very close to the Belarusian nation, not only in geographic [terms], but also in the emotional sense,” he said. “We see how they are suffering. We hear the stories about violations, about tortures.”
When Lithuania declared independence 30 years ago, “a small country far away, Iceland, stepped in and recognised our independence”, said Nausėda. “We didn’t forget it. We think now we must do the same [for Belarus] what Iceland did [for us] 30 years ago.”
Belarus’ neighbouring countries, including Lithuania, took swift action to propose mediation between Alexander Lukashenko and the civil society, said Nausėda.
“Unfortunately, Lukashenko was not ready to take [up] this initiative, and he turned towards [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” which is probably why “the situation is deteriorating”, according to Nausėda.
The Lithuanian president said the results of the August 9 presidential election in Belarus were not legitimate, therefore, “Alexander Lukashenko is not the legitimate president of this country”.
The Baltic states published a coordinated list of national sanctions, which also targetted Lukashenko. And although the EU spoke out in one voice, “so far we do not see a list of EU [sanctions]” that would include Lukashenko, he added.
“I am stressing that it’s extremely important that other countries, the EU as a whole, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, apply the same sanctions on the Belarusian regime,” said Nausėda.
He said the Western countries were reluctant to sanction Lukashenko himself, because they wanted to leave room for negotiations in the future.
However, “I really have doubts that this is still possible”, said Nausėda. “We see a certain breaking point” when Lukashenko contacted Putin, “and we see that Lukashenko is just not ready to have any mediation, especially form the side of the EU”.
Democracies cannot stay silent on #HumanRights abuse in #Belarus . I call on the international community to act promptly: support Belarus civil society