Saturday

21st May 2022

Opinion

My 6-point plan for Belarus, by former Lithuanian PM

  • Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko, here pictured at the 2020 Moscow Red Square military parade (Photo: kremlin.ru)
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On 24 November, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of democratic Belarus, during her address at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg said that the Belarusian democratic movement cannot afford to wait for Europe much longer and the EU's concern should become a concrete action.

The suggestions below were put on paper after the inspiring and intensive consultations held in Strasbourg last week with Sviatlana, her team and MEP friends of democratic Belarus in the European Parliament.

1. Using international tribunals to seek justice for the people of Belarus

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  • Andrius Kubilius is a former two-time prime minister of Lithuania, European People's Party MEP, standing rapporteur on Russia, and co-leads an informal group of MEPs for a democratic Belarus (Photo: Baltic Development Forum)

The EU must take real action and lead the preparations together with the EU member states to bring Alexander Lukashenko and his collaborators to the International Court of Justice for crimes against the Belarusian people, notably for offences under the Convention against Torture or for the migrant smuggling, which is an offence under the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

The EU should coordinate with the member states in their efforts to implement national universal jurisdiction instruments for bringing Belarusian perpetrators to justice. A special EU task force of international lawyers can assist the EU member states in these actions.

2. Seizing the assets of Lukashenko and his family

The EU together with international partners should take the lead in seizing the assets, including the ones hidden in Arab countries, held abroad by Lukashenka and his family. Everyone assisting in moving these assets abroad shall be subject to targeted sanctions from the EU.

3. Increasing sanctions to the ones who support Lukashenko and his regime: a message to the Kremlin

The EU should introduce targeted sanctions against the Kremlin regime and its oligarchs who support criminal activities of Lukashenko. Such sanctions should be introduced for at least: (1) the Kremlin's support to Lukashenko crimes in persecuting domestic opposition and civil society and (2) the Kremlin's support to Lukashenko crimes in initiating hybrid war on the external borders of the EU.

The Kremlin's attempts to implement annexation of Belarus should be met from the EU side with a clear threat to introduce the same sanctions as in the case of illegal annexation of Crimea.

4. Seeking reconciliation for those in bureaucracy of the regime who were not involved in the crimes committed and are willing to cooperate

The EU must help democratic Belarus effectively assess and separate from the outset those Belarusian government officials who are tainted by the crimes of the Lukashenko regime and those who have escaped them. This can be done under the national truth and reconciliation initiative of democratic Belarus, which can use the reconciliation experiences of many former dictatorships, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

5. Immediate launching of EU's €3.5bn 'Marshall Plan' of financial and investment support

Unfortunately, the public potential of this plan is not yet exploited to a full extent. There are no substantive and detailed discussions led by the EU institutions with the leaders of Belarusian democratic revolution regarding the implementation modalities. Such discussions could have a major impact on the geopolitical direction the Belarusians will be inclined to take after the democratic transition itself.

The EU has to step in and develop a consistent architecture of political dialogue to seek a joint vision on a multi-billion support plan and the future relationship with democratic Belarus. This mechanism can work as an interim agreement between the EU and the leaders of democratic Belarus.

Once the development finance architecture will be in place, there will be a need to convene a donor conference for democratic Belarus, which could launch an active phase of investment support to the modernisation of Belarus. The actual needs for modernisation of Belarus may stand at around €10bn to €15bn for the next five years.

6. Building EU future relations with democratic Belarus

The EU needs to provide as soon as possible a clear perspective regarding its future relations with the democratic Belarus. This should be a much closer cooperation with the EU, which could take a form of new generation Association Agreements (Europe Agreements) between the EU and democratic Belarus.

The EU needs to upgrade its policy for democratic changes in Belarus and to engage more actively with democratic forces of Belarus by giving them a seat at the Eastern Partnership summit. The EU can do even more and establish accredited democratic Belarus representation in the EU and its member sates.

The EU can further contribute to the mobilisation of democracy in Belarus by organising the annual EU summits with democratic forces of Belarus followed by the adoption the joint policy guidelines on the future of EU relations with democratic Belarus or the implementation architecture for the comprehensive EU multi-billion plan.

Author bio

Andrius Kubilius is a former two-time prime minister of Lithuania, and European People's Party MEP, chairing the European parliament delegation to the 'Euronest' parliamentary assembly with the Eastern Partnership countries. He is also a standing rapporteur on Russia. Together with Polish MEP Andrzej Halicki, he co-leads an informal group of MEPs for the democratic Belarus.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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