Belarusians want to hear that their country will not be given to Vladimir Putin as a consolation prize, the exiled Belarusian opposition leader told MEPs on Wednesday.
Addressing the plenary, the leader of Belarus’ democratic forces Svietlana Tsikhanouskaya called on MEPs to support Belarus’ European perspective and urged Parliament to take its relationship with democratic Belarus to a new level, She proposed the signing of a memorandum before the 2024 EP elections as the basis of cooperation between the European Parliament and democratic Belarus. “Belarusians want to hear that our country will not be given to Putin as a consolation prize,” she said.
Ms Tsikhanouskaya said they would need help in their fight to bring democracy to Belarus. Lukashenka does not deserve place in the international community, but a ticket to the international court in Hague, she said. Next year Belarusian democratic forces should start issuing their own passports that would confirm Belarusian citizenship, Ms Tsikhanouskaya announced, which will serve as a travel document for exiled Belarusians. ,.Soon she will ask EU governments to recognise this new travel document.
“The people of Belarus must be able to live in freedom. Free from autocracy. Free from oppression. It is what they want. It is what they chose. It is what they deserve. We will continue to support Belarusian democratic forces and to play an active role in shaping the European Union’s response to the on-going political crisis in Belarus. It is critical that we further expand European Union sanctions against the regime and do not lose sight of what they have done,” said EP President Roberta Metsola.
Prize for EP President Metsola
During a bilateral meeting, EP President Roberta Metsola received the “Cross of good neighbourhood”, awarded to outstanding individuals who have significantly helped the cause of Belarusians, from Ms Tsikhanouskaya.
MEPs alarmed over the situation in Belarus
On Wednesday, Parliament also adopted a new report on EU relations with Belarus, supporting the country’s democratic political parties in their declarations about the European aspirations of Belarusians. MEPs call on the Belarusian regime to release all political prisoners and strongly condemn the Minsk regime’s role as an accomplice in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. They note with great concern the rampant political, economic, military and cultural subordination of Belarus to Moscow, rendering the country a de-facto satellite state hosting tactical nuclear weapons under Russian command.
In the report, MEPs also call for tougher EU sanctions against Belarus while stressing that the recent arrival of Russian mercenary Wagner Group fighters creates new potential security risks for Ukraine as well as for Belarus’ EU neighbours and the wider EU. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell and MEPs also discussed the new report on Tuesday afternoon.
The report adopted by 453 votes in favour, 21against and 40 abstentions.