MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. The European Union should hold talks with Russia in order to settle the political situation in Belarus within the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune stated on Monday.
"We should display the necessary firmness with regards to Minsk, yet we must simultaneously hold talks with Russia on a political settlement in Belarus within the framework of the OSCE," he told the BFM TV channel. "This is necessary in order to reach a political solution through dialogue," he emphasized.
The diplomat branded the Lukashenko government as "the last dictatorship in Europe" and said that the situation there is raising alarm bells in the EU. "We continue to support the political opposition in Belarus, and we will continue to introduce sanctions but at the same time we will conduct a dialogue with Russia so that Belarus heads down the path towards democracy," he insisted.
Nationwide demonstrations 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. The unrest has been cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests.