Foreign Ministers call for urgent EU video conference on Belarus

The foreign ministers of Estonia, Finland and Poland came to Rīga August 11, ostensibly to mark the centenary of the signing of a Latvia-Russia peace treaty, but with current events in Belarus overshadowing the events of one hundred years ago.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, who met with his Belarusian counterpart as recently as July 24, told reporters:

"We - all ministers - completely support our Polish colleague's [Jacek Czaputowicz] proposal to the European Union's high representative for external affairs to call a meeting of the foreign ministers' council in video format, to discuss and formulate a joint, united position with regard to Belarus."

Belarus' independence and sovereignty are "absolutely essential" to both regional and European stability, Rinkēvičs said, adding that democratic rights and basic freedoms must be observed.

"We completely support efforts aimed at making Belarus a European, free country, but it is a decision for the Belarusian people to make on how that happens," he said.

Nevertheless, the European Union cannot stand on the sidelines and should take an "active position" including using its communication channels and doing everything possible to help a "stable and peaceful" situation on the EU's eastern border.  

"We are all ready to talk about this with our European colleagues," Rinkēvičs said. However, in answer to a question from LTV, he said he did not want to draw direct parallels between the situation in Belarus and the Maidan revolution in Ukraine, noting that there were similarities but also differences. 

Later in the day Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu will talk with Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on the matter, passing on the desire of the four ministers for a swift discussion, Rinkēvičs said.

Reinsalu in turn said that the announced results of the presidential election in Belarus could not be regarded as accurate. 

Also attending were Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Pekka Haavisto; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Jacek Czaputowicz, who confirmed that talks at European level should be a priority given the "very serious" situation in Minsk and other cities in Belarus.

 

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