Poland says ready to mediate between Lukashenko, opposition

Poland has called for an emergency European Union summit on Belarus, a former Soviet republic where strongman Lukashenko won a sixth term in office. — Dmitry Brushko/Tut.By handout via Reuters
Poland has called for an emergency European Union summit on Belarus, a former Soviet republic where strongman Lukashenko won a sixth term in office. — Dmitry Brushko/Tut.By handout via Reuters

RIGA, Aug 11 — Poland is ready to mediate between Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the opposition, the foreign minister said today after a second night of protests following the disputed election.

“Poland is ready to act as a mediator between Belarus opposition and president Lukashenko,” Jacek Czaputowicz told a joint press conference in Riga after meeting his Estonian, Finnish and Latvian counterparts.

“There is still a place for dialogue but we will have a hard time trying to convince other Western countries not to impose sanctions against Belarus if the violent crackdown on protesters will continue,” he said.

Poland has called for an emergency European Union summit on Belarus, a former Soviet republic where strongman Lukashenko won a sixth term in office in a vote disputed by opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

The candidate has now sought refuge in Lithuania.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said his country too would be willing to take in “political refugees from Belarus if that will be necessary”.

But he called for a “cautious approach” to imposing sanctions on Belarus, warning that this “will only enlarge their overall dependence on Russia”.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto also said that any sanctions “should be imposed in a way that they do not hurt regular Belarusian citizens”.

Estonia’s Urmas Reinsaly added that since the election in Belarus was not free and fair “we should not recognise the legitimacy of its outcome”.

The foreign ministers were meeting on the 100th anniversary of the Riga Peace Treaty, which confirmed Latvia’s independence from Soviet Russia. — AFP

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