Saturday

10th Dec 2022

Belarus opposition to MEPs: ‘Peace in Europe starts with free Belarus’

  • Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya argued to MEPs not to forget about Belarus (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told MEPs on Thursday (13 October) that a free Belarus is one of the best security guarantees for Ukraine and Europe.

"A free Belarus will be the strongest possible sanction against [Russian president Vladimir] Putin's terror," she told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The best support for a free Ukraine will be a 1,000km protective border with a liberated Belarus, no longer with a Russian colony," the opposition leader said,

"I am sure that the path to peace in Europe is through freedom in Belarus. I am sure that the path to peace in Europe is through victory in Ukraine," she said.

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenka brutally repressed a wave of protests after his re-election in 2020, a vote widely seen as rigged.

The Kremlin helped Lukashenka survive the 2020 mass demonstrations, which had been the largest in the country's history.

"I know it is difficult and painful path, but it is the right path," Tsikhanouskaya added on Wednesday.

Lukashenka on Monday said that Belarus will deploy troops to a "joint military group" fighting in tandem with Russian forces, caving in to pressure from Putin.

The 68-year-old dictator, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, also said that his country will host more Russian troops.

Tsikhanouskaya said that Lukashenka is trying to legalise the permanent deployment of Russian troops on Belarus territory.

Lukashenka earlier accused Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine of training militants to attack Belarus.

Tsikhanouskaya, 40, said Lukashenka "wants to turn Belarus into huge military base in order to terrorise Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and the entire EU and Nato".

"We must call it what it is, it's occupation," she said, adding that the "very existence of Belarus is at stake".

Putin needs Lukashenka to be seen as less isolated, but also strategically, Belarus serves as an important stage for Russian forces, while Lukashenka tries to maintain his delicate diplomatic dance between Russia and the West.

Lukashenka has been reluctant to send his own troops to Ukraine, but he also cannot survive without Putin's support.

Belarus's armed forces total 48,000 personnel, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and have no combat experience.

Tsikhanouskaya told MEPs that if Lukashenka decided to send Belarusian troops to Ukraine, it will be "political suicide" for him.

Lukashenko announced an amnesty for some political prisoners, but Tsikhanouskaya warned MEPs not to be fooled by this.

Tsikhanouskaya said Lukashenka "shamed us all by allowing launch pad for Russian missiles, which killed thousands of innocent people."

Tsikhanouskaya said that under Lukashenka's regime 1,350 political prisoners are held in subhuman conditions, and over "50,000 people have been detained, and many have died".

"The unresolved political crisis in Belarus has escalated and infected the entire region," she said.

Tsikhanouskaya added that hundreds of thousands fled Belarus to Ukraine following the 2020 crackdown on protests, and were forced to flee further as Russia invaded the country.

Opinion

A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.

Opinion

No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU

The European Commission has asked the member states' leaders assembling in Brussels next week for the customary end-of-year European Council to approve EU candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doing so would be a mistake.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission silent on Greek spyware sale to Madagascar
  2. A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail
  3. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  4. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  5. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  6. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  7. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  8. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us