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Invitation for Tikhanovskaya to Brussels is interference in Belarusian affairs - diplomat

The option for a change of power in Belarus with the help of sanctions and the recognition of ‘impostors’ have become entrenched in the European Union’s foreign policy, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, September 19. /TASS/. Brussels’ overtures to the former Belarusian presidential candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, and invitation for her to attend a meeting of the EU foreign ministers amount to interference in the republic’s affairs, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Saturday.

"EU foreign ministers’ overtures to the self-appointed Belarusian opposition representative and her invitation to Brussels ‘to communicate’ is an integral part of the scenario to meddle in Belarus’ domestic affairs. It is a brazen violation of fundamental norms of the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which anniversaries are marked by international community this year," she said.

The diplomat added that Russia would view this contact "as another proof of the European Union’s retreat from previous statements that there is no geopolitics in regard to Belarus or any parallels with the scenario of February 2014 in Ukraine when certain EU nations had come forward as so-called guarantors of the agreement between the government and opposition, which was trampled on the next day."

According to Zakharova, this course was supported by High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell’s statements on non-recognition of Alexander Lukashenko as Belarus’ president elect as well as by the European Parliament resolution passed on September 17, which in fact calls for unconstitutional change of power in that country.

Threat of sanctions

The diplomat focused attention on EU threats to impose sanctions on Belarusian officials. Zakharova emphasized that such restrictions would run counter to the goals of restoring stability, of launching a dialogue and a constitution process and of easing tensions.

"The attempts to ‘rock the boat’ are obvious, and Brussels should not be surprised that there will be a response," she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that in the wake of a sanctions threat, Brussels was working on mechanisms to funnel the 53 million euros, previously allocated to Belarus, to the EU-selected Belarusian NGOs and media, bypassing the country’s official authorities.

"Behind imaginary concern for the people of Belarus, the EU actually tries to decide for them how they should live. We would say again that the EU prefers not to talk about the constitutional reform, which aims to promote a nationwide dialogue in this country," she stated.

"In general, we can see that disrespect for objective intra-political realities, rampant support to opposition forces, up to recognition of ‘impostors’ by certain EU member states which Brussels is unable to ‘rein in,’ and the option to oust the current government through sanctions, pressure and propaganda are being increasingly entrenched in the EU foreign policy arsenal. Regrettably, Belarus is not the only example in this respect," she said.

The diplomat urged the European Union to review its policy, which obstructs normalization in the country.

On Friday, Borrell said that it would be a good idea to have breakfast with Tikhanovskaya on September 21 to discuss Belarus. The EU diplomat pointed out that the former Belarusian presidential candidate would not attend the meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police.