The Minister of foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius told DW that offered the Belarusian authorities Tikhanovski and why she left the country, and also about how the EU can help Belarus.
In Belarus for four days the protests did not subside after the presidential election, the winner of which, as stated by the CEC, was Alexander Lukashenko. Belarusian riot police brutally beat protesters, fired on them with rubber bullets, using flash-Bang grenades and water cannons disperse. The main enemy of Lukashenko at the elections – Svetlana Tikhanovski was forced to leave Belarus and go to Lithuania. August 14 will be an extraordinary meeting of foreign Ministers of the EU, whose members will discuss the situation in Belarus. Shortly before this event, DW spoke with the foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius.
DW: Mr Linas Linkevičius, you first said that Svetlana Tikhanovski left Belarus. You knew in advance that she will come to Lithuania and offered her help?
Linas Linkevičius: It was unknown in advance, and actually, we lost contact with her for almost seven hours. We didn’t know where she is, what her night was very tense.
And then we realized that the authorities had offered her a few options, the first is to leave the country, and the second was, to put it mildly, not very good for her. She has a national visa, her children already here, in Lithuania, and she decided to leave. She is now in safety with their children.
– You call the option that the government Tikhanovski, ” not very good “. What do you mean?
– I think that this option is not meant freedom. Have you seen her video? She reads it on paper. Let’s be realistic. After all, you can’t just take it on faith that what she was saying, not in these conditions. In addition, we must remember that she’s a young woman, never involved in politics, never fought, didn’t realize what’s ahead of her, what challenges she’ll face. And, of course, it was pressure, and it was a very difficult time.
– Have you talked to her?
– Yes, I saw her recently. She’s coming to. It is in good condition, optimistic. I hope that the time will come when she will talk about what happened and about their future plans and intentions. Now she is with her kids, and that’s good.
– What can you do to help Tikhanovski and her husband, who is still in prison?
– We try to do everything in our power, without interfering in the internal Affairs of a neighboring country, but at the same time we care about (what is happening there. – Ed.), and we try to help those in danger, try to be active, to consolidate the EU, to strengthen the European position. We communicate with our colleagues in the region, preparing for the meeting of foreign Ministers of EU countries. We really need to do everything possible to reconsider its relations with this country, because there has to be some political consequences. Those who broke the law, used excessive and unnecessary use of force, should be responsible for their actions. At the meeting we discuss it.
– Can we expect that the idea of imposing sanctions against Belarus would receive broad support?
– The question of sanctions is a delicate matter. For this reason there are different points of view and usually to make a decision, time is necessary. I don’t know the views of their colleagues. But I hope that will be considered all options, including sanctions, because at that time to make a statement of deep concern is not serious.
– You think that Lukashenka is concerned about the possibility of introducing the EU sanctions?
– I do not know. I can only hope that he can not always stay in this world of illusions, knowing that he has a mandate for the actions that happen three nights after the elections. The violence on the streets must stop. Lukashenka needs to respect the will and opinion of the people, at least, he should start a conversation with people if he sees no opportunity for political dialogue. It would be an opportunity to break the deadlock.
– Is there anything that you can do to influence the situation in Belarus and to support the opposition?
– In order to influence, you must take a clear position and make it clear that such actions are unacceptable and will entail consequences. Simple rhetoric is not enough, it has been repeatedly proven during previous crises. We need to treat this seriously and to pay attention to this – despite challenges in other parts of the world. This is what is happening in Europe, on our continent. We cannot remain indifferent.