2020.09.29 09:53

‘We will act’. French president in Vilnius promises help in Belarus crisis

BNS2020.09.29 09:53

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he is ready to help with mediation to resolve the crisis in Belarus.

The French leader, who met with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Vilnius earlier on Tuesday, told the reporters that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could take part in the negotiations.

“We will act,” Macron told the reporters, asked about his meeting with Tikhanovskaya.

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for her engagement. And we will do our best as Europeans, too, to help and mediate and we will come back to OSCE mediation in order to progress,” the French president said.

“We had a very good discussion but now we need to be pragmatic and to support Belarusian people and we will do our best, believe me,” he added.

Prior to the meeting, Tikhanovskaya's spokeswoman said they will focus on discussing the possibility to hold new elections in Belarus.

Read more: Macron in Lithuania: search for allies, dialogue with Putin, turning point in Belarus

“It is very important that the European countries do not remain indifferent to what is happening in Belarus,” Tikhanovskaya said in the press release. “Being one of the oldest democracies, France understands us perfectly well. Therefore I intend to remind Mr Macron of our main goal – new and transparent elections that should take place during this year.”

Following the meeting, Tikhanovskaya told reporters that Macron "promised us to do everything just to help with negotiations [...] for this political crisis in our country".

“He told that time is very crucial because a lot of people are suffering because of this regime, too many people are in jails and he will do everything to help to release all the political prisoners,” she added.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said the country plays no role in the meeting between Macron and Tikhanovskaya,

“Lithuania plays no role in the work of the [Belarusian] opposition,” Linkevičius told LRT RADIO on Tuesday morning, adding that the country only provides “safety and support”.

On Monday, Macron said that France would seek to ensure that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) took a mediator’s role in resolving the crisis in Belarus.

“France will also spare no effort to ensure this mediation so that we could move forward,” he said at a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda in Vilnius.

Read more: Macron in Vilnius: I am aware of your past but cooperation with Russia is needed

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not object to such mediation, the French president said adding that “now it is necessary to obtain the consent of Alexander Lukashenko”.

“Our stance has been very clear from the very beginning – we do not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as the president of Belarus,” Macron said.

The French leader also voiced support for the European Union imposing sanctions against Belarusian regime officials.

Read more: French president in Vilnius – seven key quotes