Following Alexander Lukashenko’s hurried swearing-in as Belarus president last week, the European Union have formally said that they do not recognize the result of the election and will be considering their relationship with the eastern European country.
The swearing-in ceremony has moved up EU plans to boycott Lukashenko after the disputed election in early August that has sparked chaos and riots throughout the country of Belarus. The EU had previously intended to formally not recognize the 66-year-old veteran leader from November, when his term as president was originally due to end.
“Recalling the Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union of 11 September, the EU once again reiterates that the 9 August Belarus Presidential elections were neither free nor fair,” a statement from the EU’s 27 states read.
“The European Union does not recognize their falsified results. On this basis, the so-called ‘inauguration’ of 23 September 2020 and the new mandate claimed by Aleksandr Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy.
“This ‘inauguration’ directly contradicts the will of large parts of the Belarusian population, as expressed in numerous, unprecedented and peaceful protests since the elections, and serves to only further deepen the political crisis in Belarus.”
Belarus relies on large financial donations from the EU every year and with the bloc currently ‘reviewing relations’ with the country a cut off in funding may be impending. Money would instead be channeled to hospitals and aid groups across the country.
Before the disputed election last month, the EU had committed to spending more than 135 million euros on various projects across Belarus and had also pledged more than 50 million euros to help the country in its fight against the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.
“The European Union’s position is clear: Belarusian citizens deserve the right to be represented by those they freely choose through new inclusive, transparent and credible elections,” the EU statement continued.
“We are impressed and moved by the courage of the Belarusian people who continue to demonstrate peacefully for democracy and for their fundamental rights despite the brutal repression of the Belarusian authorities. We stand in solidarity with them and fully support their democratic right to elect their President through new free and fair elections under the OSCE/ODIHR’s supervision.”
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has been in talks with EU foreign ministers in Brussels to try and formulate a plan to bypass Belarus’ administration in order to financially support doctors and hospitals struggling with the pandemic.
“I asked Europe not to support financially the regime. All the money Mr Lukashenko can get now will not go to support the Belarusian people but will go for those repressions,” she told reporters, referring to the pro-democracy crackdown.
“We reiterate our expectation that the Belarusian authorities immediately refrain from any further repression and violence directed against the Belarusian people and immediately and unconditionally release all those detained, including political prisoners,” the EU statement said.
“The EU remains convinced that an inclusive national dialogue and responding positively to the demands of the Belarusian people for new democratic elections are the only way forward in finding a way out of the serious political crisis in Belarus that respects the wishes of the Belarusian people.
“In light of the current situation, the EU is reviewing its relations with Belarus.”
In the US, attitudes towards Lukashenko and the election mired in controversy are largely the same as the EU’s and a number of top US officials have come out to condemn the failure in democracy and show their support for the Belarusian people.
It is a topic that rings home to many Americans at the minute with Election Day fast approaching amid continued cries of potential mail-in voter fraud from President Donald Trump. With coronavirus still deeply affecting many parts of the country, an unprecedented number of mail-in votes is expected but Trump and certain other Republicans have repeatedly claimed that this will favor the Democrats and even potentially end up with the result disputed in the Supreme Court.
“The US is extremely concerned by continued human rights violations in the wake of Belarus’ election. Reports of opposition figures being kidnapped, forcibly expelled, or otherwise threatened, are just a few of the many methods that the Belarusian government is using in its attempts to deny freedom of speech,” the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said during a briefing earlier this month.
“The US is working with our international partners to hold all of those committing these abuses accountable. And we call on the Belarusian government to release all who are being unjustly detained.
“As for the election, the election, there was not a real election. It was neither free nor fair. It was fraudulent. The massive number of Belarusians protesting peacefully makes clear that the government can no longer ignore the people’s calls for democracy,” she continued.