As the Western campaign to force regime change on Belarus falters, politicians are altering their strategy and offering inducements to citizens of the strategically located country. The presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania have announced that they will ask European Union leaders at a summit later this week to offer a support package for Belarus if the country holds another election under the supervision of observors from the EU and the US.
The presidents of Poland, Lithuania and Romania signed an open letter which they released on Monday, reiterating their support for the “people of Belarus in building a democratic path, via democratically elected state leadership, a free civil society, market economy and the rule of law”.
The proposed package would include favourable trade conditions with the EU, visa-free travel and support in negotiations to join the World Trade Organization, according to a statement from the three presidents to the EU.
While Poland and Lithuania have long been vocal and enthusiastic supporters of pro-West and anti-Russia (and now anti-Belarus) campaigns and initiatives, this is the first time Romania’s political leadership has added its voice to the chorus. LINK
It seems that economic regime change is just as important as political regime change, as the statement also calls for financial assistance to be offered for economic reforms, and to diversify the energy sector and transition towards a liberal economy according to media reports.
The people of Belarus might not find the offer very appealing if they examine the results of such reforms in Ukraine and other central and eastern European countries.
Moreover, the support would only be offered after “new, democratic elections” with international observers in the country, the Lithuanian president’s office told Reuters.
“If Belarus citizens decide to undergo political and economic reforms in the country, to establish independent institutions to defend human rights and freedom of speech – we will help with our knowledge and experience”, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.
Last week Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said Poland wants the European Union to offer Belarus financial assistance of at least 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) as part of a ‘Marshal plan’ to rebuild the country.
Belarus has been at the centre of international and domestic intrigues following a presidential election last month that President Alexander Lukashenko claims to have won by a landslide, while the opposition says the electoral process was rigged. Neighbouring countries have been organising propaganda campaigns and hosting military exercises, and Belarus has responded with similar measures.
The EU has said it intends to impose sanctions on Minsk for alleged election fraud and human rights abuses but has not yet done so.
EU political leaders will likely discuss the matter when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the single market, industrial policy and digital transformation, the coronavirus pandemic, and foreign relations. LINK
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