„Belarus Presidential elections were neither free nor fair” says EU
Lukashenko’s mandate for his sixth term lacks democratic legitimacy – the press release also contains
by: Isti Miskolczy
As a response to the ongoing political crisis in Belarus, the 27 countries of the European Union issued a joint statement on the 24 of September, in which they have declared Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory illegitimate. The EU also recognises neither the “falsified” results of the 9 August elections nor the president’s inauguration of 23 September – which was surprisingly not as much covered in the Belarus state media as some would have expected.
Photo courtesy of Guillaume Périgois via Unsplash
The EU press release also says that “this inauguration directly contradicts the will of large parts of the Belarusian population, as expressed in numerous, unprecedented and peaceful protests since the election […]”. Often, however, these protests – originally triggered by the results of the election – were turned violent, following the hundreds of arrests made by the Belarussian state authorities, who often used brutal force, tear gas, and rubber bullets with the aim of breaking up the peaceful demonstrations.
“We are impressed and moved by the courage of the Belarusian people who continue to demonstrate peacefully for democracy and for their fundamental rights despite the brutal repression of the Belarusian authorities. […] We reiterate our expectation that the Belarusian authorities immediately refrain from any further repression and violence directed against the Belarusian people and immediately and unconditionally release all those detained, including political prisoners.” – the statement also contained.
“We do not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate President of Belarus.” – also told in a speech Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs. “More than 7,500 peaceful protesters have been detained. 500 cases of torture have been recorded and documented.” – he added.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Keymaster via Unsplash
Mr. Borrell also highlighted the role of Russia and President Vladimir Putin in Lukashenko’s power of 26 years. He claimed that the Russian support to Belarus is continuing. Nevertheless, Brussels’ support to the Belarussian government is most certainly decreasing as the EU is planning sanctions on officials taking part in the violence and the detention of protesters, including President Lukashenko himself. These sanctions are said to be debated on the 1-2 October EU summit, with Cyprus reported to be opposing them, or at least taking advantage of their veto position.
After elaborating on a 53 million euro package to aid the victims of violence and independent media, Mr. Borrell concluded: “We are conducting a review of European Union-Belarus relations. We are identifying areas where contacts should be suspended or scaled back; areas where our interest is to engage and even intensify contacts in support of the Belarusian people and civil society; and, finally, areas where we can assist further if there is a move towards a new, democratic Belarus.”