On 21 June 2021 in Luxembourg, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council gathered for a meeting at which the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers discussed the developments in Belarus, the EU’s cooperation with Latin American countries, as well as the state of affairs in Iraq. The Council also featured an informal exchange with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq, Fuad Hussein.
Latvia fully supports the decision of the European Union to adopt a new package of restrictive measures against the Lukashenko regime related to the unlawful forced landing of a Ryanair plane and the government’s repression of the opposition, noted the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs. He also noted that the sanctions are not aimed at Belarusian people but instead target the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and his officials. It is vital to preserve unity also concerning sector-specific restrictive measures. The broad range of sector-specific sanctions is sending a strong signal to Lukashenko and to both Belarusian and EU society, Edgars Rinkēvičs said in his remarks to the Council.
Latvia has been actively contributing to the preparation of the restrictive measures and calling on Belarusian officials to respect human rights, cease repression of civil society and release all political prisoners.
The EU Foreign Affairs Council was preceded by an informal meeting with the leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Edgars Rinkēvičs said he was certain that Belarusian society can count on an unwavering support from Latvia in the fight for the compliance with democratic freedoms and human right. Latvia’s support to date for Belarusian society involves direct assistance to those who have been affected by protests and suffered from repression as well as to the media and independent journalists.
The resilience of the Belarusian society and its ability to preserve fighting spirit under the conditions of increasing authoritarianism deserves the greatest respect. Therefore, it is essential that Belarusian civilian forces consider prospective reforms and work to do, so that they could build a new democratic, lawful and prosperous Belarus after Lukashenko leaves.