“We do not recognize the election of President Lukashenko.” From Vilnius, Emmanuel Macron has again displayed European opposition to the recent re-election of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. The French president reaffirmed his determination to work with other Europeans for regime change in this country. He stressed Monday evening, after an interview with his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda, that at the request of Europe, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) would attempt a mediation, in agreement with Russia .
“Our desire as Europeans is to initiate this mediation which will allow all the consequences to be drawn from the results of the ballot box and a peaceful transition”, he declared. “The OSCE will conduct this mediation as firmly as possible. Vladimir Poutine has expressed his agreement and support for this initiative, he must help us to convince Alexander Loukachenko of this direction,” said the French president. Emmanuel Macron also announced that he would meet the leader of the opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Tuesday, “as an important figure” of civil society, he said, praising “his personal courage”.
The appeal of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya
He also reiterated his conviction of a necessary dialogue with Russia. “We cannot pretend that Europe is an island, far from Russia,” he said, “so this neighborhood calls for strategic work to build a security architecture” that “avoids escalations”, but which also allows a “fight against cyberactivities and against disinformation or destabilization”. France, along with Lithuania and Latvia, have also proposed to the EU a plan to protect elections in Europe against cyber attacks and disinformation, he announced. Western countries regularly accuse Russia of being behind these maneuvers.
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The three countries are calling for a joint election protection mechanism, full transparency on political advertising and targeting means, as well as a stricter ban on the funding of European parties by foreign interests. On Monday, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa asked the French president to be a mediator to resolve the crisis in Belarus. “We are in dire need of mediation to prevent more blood from being shed. Emmanuel Macron could be this mediator, along with the leaders of other countries. He might be able to influence Vladimir Putin, with whom he has good relations. “said Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Alexandre Loukachenko responds to Emmanuel Macron
Lithuania, which along with the two other Baltic states has launched a sanctions procedure against Belarusian personalities, welcomed the commitment of the French president. The Belarusian president, quoted by the official Belta agency, replied to the Frenchman that “by following this logic, he should have resigned two years ago because of the yellow vests”. “The yellow vests are still in the streets but Mr. Macron is surprisingly still in power”, he said ironically, also citing the Black Lives Matter movement and “the demonstrations of Muslims in Marseille”.
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Minsk “is ready to act as a mediator to peacefully hand over power” to these groups, he added sarcastically, advising Emmanuel Macron to “rather deal with the domestic affairs of France”. He even accused Emmanuel Macron of giving too much importance to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya “because she is a woman” and predicted to him “some trouble in his personal life”. Beyond the crisis in Belarus, the Baltic states expect from the French president a firm support against the pressures of Vladimir Poutine. And this at a time when the poisoning of the Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny still increases the tensions between Moscow and the West. Emmanuel Macron repeated Monday evening that he expected clear explanations from Moscow on this affair.
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Before flying to Latvia on Tuesday, the second stop on his Baltic tour, Emmanuel Macron will also meet NATO troops stationed on the Lithuanian base in Rukla on Tuesday, where 300 French soldiers are integrated into an international battalion. A symbolic presence in the face of Russian forces. The Atlantic Alliance has deployed permanent rotations of troops to Poland and the Baltic states in the face of Moscow’s deemed aggressive policy since the 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula.