Many countries want to solve the problem of the Belarusian dictator.
Lukashenka has only achieved the unification of the European Union by hybrid attacks on Poland and Lithuania. Former Prime Minister of Lithuania, MEP Andrius Kubilius expressed this opinion, commenting for Charter97.org on the situation on the borders of the EU and Belarus.
- The situation is still challenging. It is a hybrid war, unleashed by Lukashenka due to sanctions and support of democratic forces in Belarus. He wants the EU to make some concessions. We suspect Putin is behind this whole scheme. He is watching: if the European Union fails to take full control of the situation and borders, of course, we can expect the Kremlin head to launch a similar operation on a much larger scale after a while. Of course, we are concerned about the current situation. However, we are confident that the EU border will be protected.
- What does Lukashenka seek by his blackmail?
- He wants to change the image of Belarus within the European Union. For it to switch from brutal crimes of the regime against its own people to migrants and humanitarian issues.
On the one hand, when we listen to discussions in the European Parliament, it sometimes seems he has achieved this goal. We have a lot of talks about migrants, but not about Lukashenka. On the other hand, we observe he has somehow managed to unite the EU against him and his regime. More and more MEPs are saying it is necessary not only to solve the migrant crisis and protect EU borders but also to solve the main problem that caused this situation. I mean Lukashenka.
Not only MEPs but also the national level talks about the possibility of initiating special cases, so-called international tribunals, against Lukashenka for two reasons. First, a violation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which also deals with the smuggling of migrants. Secondly, the violation of the Convention on Torture because of the harsh repressions against the opposition and other citizens of Belarus.
- Vilnius and Warsaw have long had no illusions about the Belarusian regime. Is the rest of Europe ready for tougher actions?
- I think sanctions are coming. American ones of December 8 will be especially tough. We'll see how they will work. Of course, sanctions from the EU should be tougher. We discussed it with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya during her visit to Brussels.
International litigation and justice with tribunals will also make a big difference. I have insisted on these mechanisms over the last few months. I see the growing opportunity for this mechanism. For example, the European Parliament discuss the International Accountability Platform for Belarus.
Moreover, we need our and American intelligence services to start investigating where Lukashenka and his family are hiding secret treasures, for example, in Arab countries or somewhere else. I think it would be a huge step forward.
- Do you think there are any real possibilities to freeze Lukashenka's assets somewhere in Arab countries?
- I do not know the technical specifics of the mechanism, but I think it can be done. Moreover, one can do it without delay if some EU countries initiate tribunals against Lukashenka. I know the Lithuanian government is considering preparations for trials, especially on violations of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
I think both the tribunal and the assets freeze can happen soon. Of course, one should understand a tribunal takes much time, but it can start very soon.
- Many people talk about hybrid attacks of the official Minsk in terms of politics and security. Given the legal and humanitarian aspects, how can one assess Lukashenka's actions?
- The European Commission made this in late September in connection with plans to combat the smuggling of migrants. They are concerned about the situation and understand this was organized by the state itself. Hybrid warfare is more of political terminology. We see what the aim is. In legal terms, one won't find any criminal code or convention with a definition of hybrid warfare, so it's the smuggling of migrants, which is an international crime under the UN Convention.
- Can Lithuania, the other Baltic states, Poland take action at the national level to stop Lukashenka?
- Of course, more powerful tools are those implemented at the level of the European Union. Indeed, sometimes the EU hesitates because decisions on sanctions require the approval of 27 countries. From a technical point of view, the whole procedure is not well coordinated. We raised this problem when we were preparing the so-called special report on EU relations with Russia. There, we focused on the effectiveness of sanctions, how to apply them and make them more effective.
At the national level ... I do not know what sanctions we can apply to not only punish Lukashenka and his entourage but change the entire political situation. I see only one way we talked about earlier: the Lithuanian government, together with Poland, can initiate some instruments of international justice, that is, the tribunals. The cases should be submitted to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
As the experts say, (including the Belarusian ones), the formal start may have a great influence, especially on those who support Lukashenka. In some ways, it is more of political intuition. Something can be done at the national level.