Today Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (AFET).  Ms. Tsikhanouskaya said that Lukashenka crossed the line and became a threat not only for Belarusians but also for the international community. 

In her speech, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged the EU to:

– adopt without further delay the 4th package of sanctions and announce a start of the development of the 5th package to launch the Comprehensive EU Assistance Plan for a democratic Belarus;
– communicate in clear language to Russia and other states willing to abuse the weakness of Lukashenka that any agreements or contracts signed with him will be reviewed and might be nullified;
– deny any kind of financial support to governmental requests and refrain from all new foreign investments in Belarus and new credit lines to Belarusian banks;
– strengthen support for civil society in Belarus, independent media, develop assistance programs for repressed Belarusians.

Read the full remarks by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya:

“Dear Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament,

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. I am sure you have all followed the news from my country. Let me briefly summarize them.

The developments in Belarus last week brought Belarusians four distinct groundbreaking developments: 

  1. the elimination of TUT.by – the most popular independent media outlet; 
  2. the death of political prisoner Viltold Ashurak, in unclear circumstances in custody;
  3. regime’s intention to postpone the next national vote by 1,5 years till the end of 2023; 
  4. and finally, the regime scrambled a fighter jet to land a commercial Ryanair flight to arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich.

The last event has raised grave concerns all over the world and strong reactions from national capitals and international organizations. We appreciate political reactions and practical measures adopted in response to this incident that has violated fundamental safety norms of civil aviation. 

Lukashenka has crossed the line with the Ryanair flight incident and became a threat to international peace and security. Hence the reaction of the international community has been justifiably strong and effective. 

But I would like to emphasize that Belarusians live in this atmosphere of lawlessness for more than nine months. Disrespect for human rights and freedoms is the feature of Lukashenka’s style of governance for decades. But since the rigged elections of August 2020, Lukashenka’s regime has completely lost the boundaries of acceptable behavior in Belarus and internationally.

Let’s be frank: the previous EU strategy of “wait and see” towards the Belarusian regime does not work. The EU approach of gradually elevating pressure on Lukashenka’s regime has not managed to change its behavior and only led to a growing sense of impunity and mass repressions. 

Now I call on the European Parliament to make sure that the reaction of the international community is not limited to the Ryanair flight incident. The response must address the situation in Belarus in its entirety, or we will all face such situations in the future as Lukashenka is turning my country into a North Korea of Europe – non-transparent, unpredictable, and dangerous. 

Therefore I call on the EU: 

1. To firmly and publicly maintain the policy of non-recognition of Lukashenka. 
2. To initiate an international high-level political conference on the resolution of the crisis in Belarus to be held without delay.
3. Launch EU Comprehensive Plan of support for a democratic Belarus. It should be done jointly by President von der Leyen and myself to send a clear message to Belarusians that Europe cares about the future of Belarus.
4. Create Belarusian friendship groups in national parliaments to stay engaged in the Belarusian agenda on a continuous basis.
5. Communicate in clear language to Russia and other states willing to abuse the weakness of Lukashenka that any agreements or contracts signed with him will be reviewed and might be nullified.

I call on the EU to:

1. Deny any kind of financial support to governmental requests and refrain from all new foreign investments in Belarus and new credit lines to Belarusian banks.
2. Adopt without further delay the 4th package of sanctions and announce a start of the development of the 5th package.
3. Impose a ban on imports from Belarus of oil products,  potash fertilizers,  metal products, and wood and products from wood.  
4. Refrain from all new foreign investments in Belarus and new credit lines to Belarusian banks.

I call on the EU to:

1. Enhance support for Belarusian civil society.
2. Adopt a contingency package to support Belarusian independent media.
3. Develop programs to provide relief and rehabilitation to the repressed Belarusians and members of their families.

Friends of Belarus in Europe, it is time to act now!

Thank you for your attention”.