Fate of Belarus should lie in hands of Belarusians: FA Minister

Speaking at the 18th Minsk Forum, Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Zbigniew Rau, stated that the fate of Belarus should lie in the hands of Belarusians and that a peaceful transformation can only come through negotiations. He also underlined that Belarusian protesters have shown their determination and a willingness to pay the highest price for freedom - the price of life.

The Polish Foreign Minister stated during this year’s forum that Belarus has been swept by a wave of protests following the presidential election in August. Minister Rau added that the protesters are fighting in defence of basic civil rights and free elections.

Minister Rau underlined that the opposition must be allowed by Alexander Lukashenko to play a role in the political life of Belarus, saying “a peaceful transformation to a modern society and a democratic state is possible only as a result of a negotiation process in which representatives of the opposition also participate”.

The Polish Foreign Affairs Minister reminded the participants of the forum that Polish and German authorities have issued an appeal to president Lukashenko to start talks with representatives of civil society. He also reiterated the opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's call to repeat the elections.

The incumbent president, Aleksander Lukashenko, officially won the election after having received 80 percent of the votes. His victory is disputed by the opposition, which claims that the election result was falsified in order to allow Lukashenko to win another term in office, a position he had held since 1994.

Minister Rau emphasised during the forum that Poland will continue to help Belarus to develop and to work for a tightening of its relations with the EU.

This year, the Minsk Forum was organised online due to the pandemic but has previously been organised in Minsk by the German-Belarusian society.

The conference examines the political, economic and social transformation processes in Belarus as well as relations with neighbouring countries. The forum was launched in 1997 during a slump in relations between the EU and the President of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko.

The 18th Minsk Forum was also attended by the Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas.