Baltic prime ministers issue joint statement on Belarus

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Following similar initiatives from the presidents and parliaments of their respective countries, the prime ministers of the three Baltic states have also joined forces to issue a joint statement August 15 regarding the situation in Belarus.

The used the opportunity to call for rigged presidential elections to be run again, this time with the international observers who were barred from the recent vote.

It is reproduced below in full.

The Prime Minister of Estonia, Mr Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Latvia Mr Krišjanis Karinš and Prime Minister of Lithuania Mr Saulius Skvernelis met on August 14-15, 2020 within the framework of the Baltic Council of Ministers in Tartu, Estonia.

The Prime Ministers expressed deep concern over the violent crackdown of the peaceful protests and the political repression of the opposition by the authorities after the Belarusian presidential elections that were neither free nor fair. The Prime Ministers urged the Belarusian authorities to refrain from the violence against peaceful demonstrators, release all political prisoners and those that have been detained during the protests. The Prime Ministers call on Belarus to conduct free and fair presidential elections in a transparent way with the participation of international observers.

The Prime Ministers also encouraged the European Union to find possibilities to impose restrictive measures against officials responsible for the violence, but at the same time not punishing Belarusian people for the actions of their leadership. It is also important that EU will find ways and means to give more support to the Belarusian civil society as the Belarusian people deserve open and free society

The joint statement comes a few days after PM Kariņš' previous statement on Belarus in which he questioned the validity of the vote, saying: "The presidential elections in Belarus have not been conducted according the standards of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), nor could international observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europe participate in the election observation. The current situation in Belarus shows that the formally announced initial results of the presidential elections do not correspond to the true choices of the electorate."

Separately, on 14 August, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took place in the video conference of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, which was convened to share views on developments in Belarus and to address the recent actions by Turkey and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

"The Foreign Affairs Council held a discussion on a possible response by the EU to the situation in Belarus. Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed concern that the 9 August presidential elections in Belarus had not ensured the citizens’ rights to free, fair and democratic elections. The Minister underlined that Latvia strongly condemns the unjustified use of force by Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters and members of the mass media. Latvia calls for an immediate release of the detained protesters and members of the media and for engaging in a dialogue with the opposition and civil society," said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The Latvian Foreign Minister urged the EU to expand its support for the civil society in Belarus making use of all the instruments available. The Minister also said that Latvia supports restrictive measures against persons responsible for the crackdown on protests and for electoral violations," the statement added, without quoting Rinkēvičs directly.

The proposals to render broad assistance for the Belarusian civil society and the need to develop and implement personalised sanctions received support from all EU foreign ministers.

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