17 January 2022, Monday, 1:03
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MEP Ska Keller: European Union Takes Firm Stance On Regime In Belarus

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MEP Ska Keller: European Union Takes Firm Stance On Regime In Belarus
SKA KELLER
PHOTO: EP

Lukashenka was made clear that he cannot blackmail Europe.

Will Germany's policy change after the Greens entered the government? Will the rhetoric on the Belarusian issue change? The website Charter97.org spoke about this with the MEP from the Green Party, the leader of the Greens - European Free Alliance faction in the European Parliament, Ska Keller.

- The European Union has adopted the fifth package of sanctions against the Belarusian regime. The sixth package of restrictive measures has already been announced. How do you assess the work of Brussels on the Belarusian issue?

- It is right that the European Union took a strong position, supporting the democratic opposition in Belarus from the very beginning of the elections. Of course, we can always argue whether more could have been done, but the position was clear and precise. Now a lot of attention is paid to the situation at the border, because Lukashenka instrumentalized the refugees. I think this is an important issue, but we cannot lose sight of the whole situation in Belarus, where the opposition is in prisons and under repression. Recently Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was in Brussels. She gave a very strong speech to the European Parliament on what should remain our focus.

- This year a fairly principled resolution of the European Parliament on Belarus was adopted. Has Europe become aware of who it is dealing with?

- I don't think that anyone in the European Union has any illusions about who we are dealing with.

- Lukashenka is the organizer of the humanitarian crisis on the borders with the EU. Do you see an opportunity to punish him for human trafficking?

- Lukashenka is playing a very dirty game, using people who have no prospects at home, there is every reason to leave, who also need international protection. I find using these people in such a situation is a very dirty game. You can definitely call it human trafficking.

The EU must find a solution based on humanitarian needs, but we must make it clear to Lukashenka that he cannot blackmail us. Undermining the European position is unacceptable. We do not forget the situation with the Belarusian opposition just because he created another problem at the border.

- The party you represent entered the government coalition in Germany. Ms Annalena Baerbock headed the country's Foreign Ministry. Should we expect any changes in the foreign policy of the FRG? Will it be different?

- Annalena Baerbock has made it very clear that her vision of foreign policy is based on shared values of human rights and democracy. She will definitely not forget the Belarusian opposition, especially those in prison. Moreover, she has already sent clear signals to Russia on the Ukrainian issue. I think we can expect from her a clear and firm position and a focus on human rights.

- Your party pays great attention to the problems of ecology and the environment. Speaking in the context of Belarus, we have put into operation the Astraviets nuclear power plant, which is located several tens of kilometers from the capital of Lithuania - Vilnius. The station was built with a huge number of violations, the reactor had already been shut down several times. Does Europe have any tools to respond to such actions?

- As you know, the Greens are categorically against nuclear energy because it is unsafe and ineffective. There were several problems with the reactor in Astraviets. It doesn't matter where it is, because any problem will affect the people who live in the neighborhood. Moreover, it affects not only the country where the reactor is located, but also neighboring countries.

In the European Parliament, the Greens are against this project. We are very active in this matter. But I also agree that we need more effective tools, because Astraviets is indeed right on the border, and therefore the population of Europe will be affected as well. It is our duty to protect our citizens from danger.

- The environmental movement has been destroyed in Belarus. Its leaders are in jail. The Belarusian authorities have threatened to withdraw from the Aarhus Convention. Do you see the connection between the fight for democracy and the fight for climate and environmental protection?

- Some people are fighting for a safe environment for themselves, their children and their neighbors. We see that many environmental movements are suppressed by non-democratic regimes who see them as some danger. Hence, there is a close connection between the fight for democracy and the fight for a climate and a safe environment. This is not surprising, because we are all dependent on a healthy environment, and in some places, difficulties begin.

- You are a politician with a large background of activism. You understand very well what it means to fight for rights and freedoms. Thousands of Belarusians have been fighting for the right to free elections and basic democratic rights for a year and a half. As a person who is constantly in a struggle, what could you say to Belarusians?

- First of all, I must say that what I do is not comparable to how people in Belarus suffer. Of course, I am fighting for many things, but I am not under a huge threat like prison, and the state is not persecuting me just because I am fighting for the environment or justice.

I am from Eastern Germany, and democracy was a big deal for my parents' generation. I, so to speak, was born too late to participate in this. What I am doing is under no circumstances comparable to the enormous threats faced by the democratic opposition in Belarus.

It is important to say that people in Belarus are not abandoned. Here, in the European Union, we do not forget political prisoners, their families and those who were forced to leave Belarus. We will continue to support them, demand freedom, an end to repression and violence. We will not forget all these people.