A Fine Gael Senator has called on the Irish government and our partners in the European Union to implement ‘more effective sanctions’ against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
Speaking in the Seanad ahead of the visit of Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to Ireland, Senator Barry Ward said:
“Almost a year ago, in August 2020, there was a presidential election in Belarus, which was totally unfair and non-transparent, and recognised as such by the European Commission and many international organisations.
“President Alexander Lukashenko has kept power, notwithstanding the fact that it is widely accepted that he does not have the support of the Belarusian people.
“Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was deemed by the international community to have won that election and is now essentially in exile. As part of her visit to Ireland this week, she is set to meet with members of the Belarusian community, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and members of the Oireachtas.
“I hope that Ireland will take a strong line on this matter, and that it will take its role as part of the international community and UN Security Council seriously. We must re-emphasise the fact that the behaviour of Alexander Lukashenko and his regime is illegal, undemocratic and unacceptable.
“Belarus, which is the last remaining dictatorship in Europe, has imprisoned 550 people for their actions in response to the results of the presidential election. Only last week, one of the other 2020 election candidates, Viktar Babaryka, was sentenced to fourteen years in prison.
“On the borders of our European Union, our neighbours are suppressing their opponents, citizens, and democracy.
“The European Council has collectively refused to accept both the results of the 2020 presidential election and the legitimacy of Lukashenko’s presidency, and has implemented sanctions against the Belarusian regime, which has been deemed responsible for “violence and falsification.
“I do not believe these sanctions go far enough; they’re simply insufficient.
“Further steps must be taken to advance the case of democracy in Europe and across the world.”