Tichanovskaya in the EU Parliament: “Time is of the essence”

Status: 11/24/2021 5:23 p.m.

The Belarusian opposition party Tichanovskaya thanked the EU for its support – but Europe had to act more decisively and quickly. Lukashenko’s rule is like a virus.

By Jakob Mayr, ARD-Studio Brussels

The seat at the lectern in the European Parliament is actually reserved for MPs, EU officials or heads of state and government. But at noon Svetlana Tichanovskaya appears before the plenum. The 39-year-old does not hold any office, she is the voice of the opposition in Belarus. And she calls out to the EU: “Forgive my openness, but time is of the essence!”

Jakob Mayr
ARD studio Brussels

She is grateful for the support; Europe could really be proud of that. There have been grand gestures of solidarity since the fraudulent election of August 2020. The Belarusians had been praised for their belief in democracy.

Isn’t it time now that Europeans took decisive action to show that they stand up for these values? Tichanovskaya demands that Europe must act faster in the face of autocrats.

She compares the rule of ruler Alexander Lukashenko to a virus – it spreads if you don’t fight it. Tichanovskaya demands no political contact with Lukashenko. Nobody should call him a president because he wasn’t. And she affirmed that the sanctions were working.

Carry on with a consistent sanctions policy that divides the Lukashenko clique.

And she asks for support for Belarusian civil society. According to their portrayal, 882 political prisoners are in custody, members of the opposition are arrested for no reason, journalists are intimidated, and people are threatened to commit suicide. “Let’s stand against it together,” demands Tichanovskaya. Democracy not only in Belarus, but in all of Europe depends on it.

“A sign to Lukashenko”

Standing ovations after her speech. Left parliamentary group leader Martin Schirdewan explains: “This is a sign to the democratic opposition that it is not alone, and a sign to Lukashenko that he cannot go on like this.”

In the parliamentary debate on Belarus, Commissioner Margaritis Schinas reported initial successes: The regime is leading people from the no man’s land on the border with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia back to their countries of origin. The commission wants to create blacklists of travel companies involved in people smuggling.

Schinas: “Comprehensive threat to our security”

And Schinas is holding an organized campaign against the EU in Minsk. This is “a deliberate attempt to create an ongoing crisis as part of a broader effort to destabilize the European Union in order to test our unity and resolve,” said Schinas. “This is not about migration, it is a huge threat to our security.” Europe’s unity has paid off in the conflict with Minsk, according to Schina’s message.

CDU MP Lena Düpont also emphasizes: “What counts now: Europe’s unity must be maintained – with the sanctions, with border protection, with the involvement of international aid organizations in Belarus, with the consistent repatriation. The message is very clear: Europe does not allow itself blackmail.”

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East have been stuck on the EU’s external border with Belarus for weeks. The EU accuses Lukashenko of having smuggled people to the border in an organized manner in revenge for sanctions.

Tichanowskaja’s appeal to Brussels: Remain tough on Lukashenko

Jakob Mayr, ARD Brussels, 11/24/2021 4:40 p.m.

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