We must stand together for freedom and democracy – .

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We must stand together for freedom and democracy – .


We believe in freedom and democracy. Freedom-loving societies are not only the best places to live, they are the most prosperous. When the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain collapsed three decades ago, renewed democracies were established across Eastern Europe. People have become freer, live better and their children have a better future. But these hard-earned gains are now threatened by autocratic and malicious regimes that seek to deprive people of their freedom.

Look at what’s going on in Belarus. The growing stalemate on the Polish border marks the latest step taken by the Lukashenko regime to undermine regional security. It uses desperate migrants as pawns in its attempt to create instability and cling to power, whatever the human cost.

The UK will not look away. We will be alongside our allies in the region, who are on the borderline of freedom. That is why we are proud to be the first European country to help Poland by agreeing to send a small team of staff to provide technical support to ease the pressure at the border.

Likewise, we were the first European country to impose sanctions on the Lukashenko regime, targeting more than 100 individuals and organizations with measures such as an asset freeze and a travel ban. It shows that we are ready to take the lead in defending freedom and democracy, acting with firmness, determination and relentlessness to confront malicious actors wherever they are in the world.

We are not only on the side of Poland, because it bears the weight of this shameful crisis of manufactured migrants, but also of others in the four of Visegrad – Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – and our friends in the Baltic countries and Ukraine.

In Belarus, this carefully crafted crisis is an attempt to deflect attention from the litany of heinous acts and human rights violations that the regime has already committed. Since the fraudulent elections of August 2020, we have seen members of the opposition, journalists and activists beaten, imprisoned and killed, while others have been forced into exile.

Unlike their tyrannical rulers, Belarusians are true democrats. We have seen ordinary citizens risk everything to defend their rights and keep the flame of freedom alive. As the president of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Andrei Bastunets, said: “Today the law does not protect us. Today we stand up for the law. Russia has a clear responsibility here. It must put pressure on the Belarusian authorities so that they end the crisis and engage in dialogue.

We must fight for the rule of law, freedom and democracy, and we must fight this fight where this ideological battle is. Security is no longer just a question of military equipment. The battle is now fought in cyberspace, the economy and the appalling use of people as collateral.

We will join forces with our partners to advance our common interests. At the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Summit in Riga in a few weeks, we will present new proposals to challenge the 21st century methods of aggression used by those who threaten our freedoms, our economies and our democracies.

The world is changing and modern threats are more complex. This idea is at the heart of the Integrated Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy Review that the government released earlier this year. We must work with allies who believe we must have a world where freedom-loving democracies not only survive, but thrive.

That is why we remain the largest European defense investor in NATO – the largest defense alliance in the world. That is why we are working with friends and allies in Southeast Asia, where we are strengthening our defense, maritime and security ties. This week in Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, I agreed to new ties in cyber. I have also visited Thailand and Malaysia, where our cooperation includes the Five-Power Defense Agreements. We are also increasing our defense collaboration with India, Israel and many others around the world. Through Aukus, we are collaborating with the United States and Australia on the next generation of technology.

I want our friends across Europe to join us. This means uniting, for example to oppose the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. It risks undermining European security by allowing Russia to tighten its grip on countries which depend on its gas, despite the pandemic which reminds us of the importance of having diverse supply chains to avoid being strategically dependent on unreliable partners.

At this critical time, we should deepen our investments and trade ties with countries that play by the rules and allow market economies to thrive. We cannot and never will give aid to those who want to undermine freedom and democracy.

Together with our friends and allies, we can build a network of freedom, working to fend off these malicious actors to ensure that freedom-loving people can live in peace.

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