Belarus: France Macron pledges his support for opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya | News | DW

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Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met French President Emmanuel Macron in Vilnius on Tuesday to discuss European support for the opposition in his country. Tsikhanouskaya told reporters in the Lithuanian capital that Macron had promised to help negotiate the release of political prisoners in Belarus.

“He promised us to do everything to help the negotiations, [during] this political crisis in our country… and he will do everything to help free all political prisoners, ”she declared after the meeting.

Tsikhanouskaya also told French news agency AFP that she accepted an invitation from Macron to speak to the French parliament.

Most publicized meeting to date

Tuesday’s meeting was Tsikhanouskaya’s most high-profile round of talks with a foreign leader since Belarus’s disputed August 9 presidential election, in which she and incumbent Alexander Lukashenko won.

She has already approached the UN Human Rights Council and the European Parliament to encourage support for the Belarusian opposition.

Tsikhanouskaya plans to visit Berlin next week, his spokesperson said on Tuesday. A meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planned but has not been confirmed, according to the Reuters news agency.

Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania after the elections amid a violent government crackdown on protesters and opposition figures.

Read more: Svetlana Alexievich: Nobel laureate leaves Belarus for Germany

Macron promises European “mediation”

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Macron told reporters “that we will do our best as Europeans to help mediate,” adding that talks could progress through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (OSCE).

Read more: Belarus: athletes unite to oppose Lukashenko’s “paranoid dictator”

“Our goal is for this mediation to begin in the next few days or weeks,” he said, adding that the goals include a peaceful transition, the release of political prisoners and free elections held under international observation.

Macron also said OSCE mediation in Belarus would be a favorable option for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko’s main foreign ally.

However, Putin appeared to question that claim in televised remarks on Tuesday, saying Belarus was under “unprecedented external pressure” while vowing to stand by the government in Minsk.

wmr, ab / dr (AFP, Reuters)



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