Taoiseach to discuss Belarus crisis with EU heads of government

Coveney says Ireland does not accept the result of disputed presidential election

Speaking in a video address from Lithuania, Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya calls for the creation of a legal mechanism to ensure that a new, fair presidential election can be held. Video: Reuters

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will join a virtual meeting of EU heads of government on Wednesday to discuss the emerging crisis in Belarus.

The former Soviet republic has seen a pro-democracy uprising since a disputed presidential election on August 9th.

Reports from the country in recent days have shown protestors attacked by riot police while a large number of people are also reported to have been detained.

There were large protests across the country on Sunday, demanding the departure of incumbent Alexander Lukashenko in the wake of the disputed presidential poll.

The President of the EU Council - the group of EU leaders which is the union’s highest decision making body - Charles Michel called an emergency summit of the 27 leaders earlier today to discuss the crisis in Belarus.

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“The people of Belarus have the right to decide on their future and freely elect their leader,” Mr Michel said in a tweet . “Violence against protesters is unacceptable and cannot be allowed.”

On Monday afternoon, Mr Martin said in a tweet: “The people of Belarus deserve to have free, fair and transparent elections. People’s right to protest peacefully must be respected.”

He said he would share his views with EU leaders at the Wednesday summit.

Earlier the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that the EU did not regard the recent elections as valid.

Europe considers that they have not been either free nor fair and this is a tremendous disqualification of the political regime in Belarus. We are behind the people of Belarus.”

Mr Borrell added the EU will exercise “all the diplomatic pressure possible” on the government of Belarus, stressing: “The EU’s position is very clear: we don’t recognise the democratic validity of these elections.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney commended the protesters for their actions in challenging the regime, “notwithstanding the very real threat that they have faced to their personal liberty and safety”, and added that Ireland does not accept the result of the election claimed by the Lukashenko government.

“I remain deeply concerned by the ongoing developments in Belarus and totally condemn the human rights abuses which we have seen take place since the flawed Presidential election. This result was not legitimate as evidenced by the intimidation and detentions which took place both before and after the election and the response of the state authorities to the large-scale and overwhelmingly peaceful protests which are now taking place across the country,” Mr Coveney said in a statement.

On Friday, EU foreign ministers moved towards toward imposing sanctions on top officials in Belarus responsible for “violence, repression and the falsification of election results,” according to the EU’s diplomatic service - an option that is likely to be discussed by EU leaders on Wednesday.