News story | Date: 12/08/2021
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide met Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian pro-democracy movement, for political talks today.
‘The meeting made a strong impression on me. Together with other Belarusian pro-democracy activists, Ms Tsikhanouskaya is engaged in a courageous and arduous struggle against a regime that uses brutal methods to suppress peaceful political opponents. Her efforts since spearheading the peaceful protests after the presidential election last August deserve huge respect,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
What could have been a peaceful transition to a freer country with genuine democratic choice has instead devolved into a state dominated by fear and terror. President Lukashenko has shown that he will resort to any means to silence critical voices.
‘Once again, we urge President Lukashenko to stop the violence, hold free elections, release political prisoners and open the door to political opposition and freedom of expression,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway will continue its efforts to ensure that Belarus remains high on the international agenda and to support democratic forces in the country.
‘Norway has aligned itself with all EU sanctions, and we hope that this will help to put pressure on the regime. We increased our support for democracy and human rights efforts in Belarus last year, and I am pleased to announce that we are allocating NOK 30 million for these activities in 2021. It is vital that the international community continues to put pressure on President Lukashenko’s regime with a view to promoting democracy and safeguarding the fundamental human rights of the people of Belarus,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.