30 September 2022, Friday, 13:21
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Bundestag MP to Belarusians: Europe Stands on Your Side

Bundestag MP to Belarusians: Europe Stands on Your Side
Robin Wagener
Photo: Die Grünen im Bundestag, Kaminski

The West should use the principles of international law and the courts against the Belarusian regime.

How does the new German government see the situation in Belarus? Will the foreign policy of official Berlin change? Is Europe ready to respond to new challenges posed by dictatorial regimes?

Charter97.org discussed it with Robin Wagener, a Bundestag member from the Union 90/Green Part.

– I would like to thank you for the support of the Belarusian political prisoners. It was very pleasant to see on Twitter a photo of deputies from the Green Party in support of Belarusian political prisoners. Why did you decide to hold such an action?

– We firmly stand with the courageous people of Belarus who fight tirelessly for democracy and the rule of law in their country and who, because of this, personally pay an extremely high price. They have our deepest gratitude, our respect and our solidarity. Therefore, it is – for me and many other colleagues in the German Parliament - a matter close to our heart, to take over the godparenthood for one of the many political prisoners in Belarus.

We are facing the last dictatorship in Europe. It is extremely sad to see such a situation on our continent. The stories that we hear are really disturbing. Politics is not only about dealing with big issues; it is real people that we talk about. The decisions that we make are influencing the lives of real people. 

Such partnership programs represent this aspect to me. It is one way to do good to the people, to show the world that there are political prisoners. We cannot allow Belarus authorities to take off people from the political stage just because they are opposing the regime. There are real persons with their opinions. That is why we need to show our support on a personal level. Moreover, it is not only to show political prisoners to the world but also to show that the world sees and thinks about them and their families. 

– Lately, people in Germany are increasingly talking about Belarus. One of the reasons is the migration crisis on the border with the European Union. How did this situation affect German politicians and ordinary Germans? Has the attitude towards Lukashenka and his dictatorship changed?

– First of all, I would not talk about a migration crisis because it is a crisis with the regime in Belarus. This dictatorship uses human beings for their political motives. The regime misused human beings to influence the European Union – to get rid of sanctions. 

The crisis on the border was not caused by the migrants, but by the dictatorship in Belarus, and we have a clear focus on that. Clearly, it was Lukashenka’s decision to bring these people to Belarus with false promises in order to use them for political agenda. Bringing vulnerable people into a hopeless situation shows once again that Lukashenka does not care about human rights, not even for a second. That is why we have to help the people and address the broader political aspects of the issue.  The lives of the people at the border were put in danger. Humanitarian organisations should immediately get access to the people in need – on both sides of the border. Already too many had lost their lives.

In addition, we cannot be deceived by the situation on the border. We do not only focus on what is happening on the border. We see the repressions that are taking place against the political activists in Belarus. 

– What instruments of influence on the Belarusian dictator do you see?

– The EU already imposed some instruments of restrictive measure. Just two weeks ago the fifth package of sanctions was adopted against 17 individuals and 11 entities that are related to the regime. I believe that this is an important step forward but might be not the last. 

– The representative of your party, Annalena Baerbock, became the head of the German Foreign Ministry. If you follow the Belarusian and Ukrainian media, then a lot of hopes are pinned on it. On the contrary, Russian media demonize it. This is due to her principled position in relation to the dictatorships of Putin and Lukashenka. Should we expect any changes in German foreign policy in the new government?

– We have a clear compass concerning the foreign policy towards Russia and other governments in the world. We want to impose value-based foreign policy. It is important to have dialog, but it cannot be without any purpose. That is why we support democratic civil societies in other countries. Therefore, we will address issues and make them clear. 

– Today the democratic world faces many challenges. Chinese dictatorship, dictatorships of Putin, Lukashenka. For a long time, European politicians were reproached for the so-called "realpolitik". Do you see the prerequisites for the West to move to a more value-based policy and begin to respond more harshly to dictatorial regimes?

– We need those values to have a good approach in politics. If we want to influence the world then we have to see the realities that exist in some countries. It is necessary to address the facts and use instruments in the areas in order to have a real and honest talk. The world needs to be regulated by the power of a word, not by force, therefore, we want to achieve it through diplomatic relations. We need communication of values as a compass to address strong messages together with other instruments.

– I would like to ask you as a lawyer. Do you see prospects in the persecution of people responsible for crimes against humanity in Belarus within the framework of universal jurisdiction? Do you see an opportunity to start a lawsuit against Lukashenka personally?

– We need to have strong possibilities of international criminal law to be applicable to people committing such crimes. While this regime exists, we must have strong international law and courts, and we need to use them.

– You have the opportunity to contact the Belarusians through our website, who have been fighting for their freedom for almost a year and a half. What would you tell them?

– It is really impressive to see Belarusian democratic activists not only in Belarus but also in Poland, Lithuania, and other countries. It is deeply moving me to see what you all do for democracy and freedom. We are firmly on your side.