President of the Republic of Lithuania

The President calls on the EU, US, Canada, and UK to impose sanctions on the Belarusian regime

2020-09-10

In his interview to HARDtalk, broadcast on BBC World Service, President Gitanas Nausėda called on the leaders of the European Union, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to give an appropriate focus on the situation in Belarus and to consider without any delay sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for the violation of human rights.

“The political rhetoric of European countries regarding Belarus is welcome, but not enough. We need to act. The three Baltic States have assumed leadership and set the example by initiating national sanctions against Belarusian officials. The list includes thirty persons, including Aleksandr Lukashenko. It is critically important that the European Union and other countries – the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom – impose sanctions on the Belarusian regime,” the President emphasized.

In his interview to journalist Stephen Sackur, President Gitanas Nausėda welcomed the decision to hold an extraordinary European Council meeting on the situation in Belarus. However, he said, this was not enough to bring about real change. According to the President, neither Lithuania nor the European Union have a moral right to remain aloof when human rights and democratic values are violated in Belarus.

“Lithuania and Belarus are bound not only by geographical proximity. The Lithuanian people feel an emotional closeness to those fighting for their freedom in Belarus. We sense the pain and the suffering on the streets of Belarus. We know that brutal force is used against people and that people are tortured,” the President said, adding that the price for preserving democratic values in Europe can never be too high. “It is not an economic cost-benefit analysis. We are speaking about fundamental values in which we firmly believe.”

Gitanas Nausėda underlined that the ongoing situation in Belarus confirmed that Aleksandr Lukashenko was not ready for any kind of mediation by the European Union. On the contrary, he is increasingly strengthening ties with Russia. “We see Belarus’ huge debt to Russia. About 50 percent of its national debt is to Russia. We see very close economic and trade links with Russia. In this kind of situation, Aleksandr Lukashenko is clearly losing his grip on power, while Vladimir Putin controls many instruments that enable him to pursue his objectives. His ultimate goal is to merge the two countries together. He sees Lukashenko as a very convenient partner who no longer has power and is totally dependent on Putin’s will,” the President said.

The President pointed out that Lithuania did not recognize the results of the presidential election held in Belarus in August and did not consider the alleged winner Aleksandr Lukashenko to be a legitimate leader elected by the people. He added that the Belarusian national and opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was now safe in Lithuania where she continued her activities.

Speaking about the role of NATO in Europe, Gitanas Nausėda said it was the only and the best factor of defense and deterrence. The President pointed out that Lithuania allocated two percent of its GDP for defense spending – which demonstrated Lithuania’s responsible approach to security and defense.

Brexit was also discussed during the interview. The President expressed his regret about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but he said that he respected it. Gitanas Nausėda urged the British government to seek an agreement on trade and cooperation, because delay was not in the interest of either the EU or the United Kingdom.

The President‘s Communication Group

Last updated 2020.09.10 16:00

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