European leaders must show Belarusians they are not forgotten – Tsikhanouskaya

  • 2024-03-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Europe must show Belarusians that they are not forgotten and belong to the democratic world, Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Friday as she attends the international Kalinowski Forum at the Seimas.

This year, the forum focuses on Belarus' European integration.

According to Tsikhanouskaya, Belarusians understand that Russia is taking away their independence and making Belarus a satellite state, but Belarusians do not see an alternative.

"European countries', European leaders' obligation is to show what we are offering for people, that democracy is a wonderful space and you are part of this space," she told journalists at the Seimas. "People who live in repression for so many years, we need a positive agenda, we need to be shown that we are not forgotten."

The Belarusian opposition is working on the country's new Constitution and is cooperating with the European Union institutions, Tsikhanouskaya said, adding that this is the first step on the path of Belarus' European integration.

"Belarus historically belonged to Europe and only for last 200 years it is under influence of Russia. The Belarusian nation is a European nation, Belarus has to return to its historical roots. I don't know how long it will take but we are preparing for this moment now," the Belarusian opposition leader said.

In her words, European leaders are reluctant to send positive messages to the Belarusian people that "they are welcome and our door is open to you".

"The Belarusian people feel frustrated by this," she said.


This year's Kalinowski Forum focuses on Belarus's choice to follow the path of European development in the light of the August declaration by the Belarusian democratic forces on EU integration as well as the forthcoming elections in Belarus in 2025.

Opening the forum, the Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen said that it could help to develop a clear strategy for Belarus' integration into the transatlantic community.

"It serves as a platform to deliberate destiny of our entire region, recognize interdependence of our nations and a pivotal role Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus are playing shaping our entire future," she said.

In her words, the existing Minsk regime and Alexander Lukashenko are not only a threat to the security of the countries in the region, but are also holding back the integration of the whole region.

"It also leaves European Union integration in our region incomplete," she underlined.


For her part, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said that freedom leads heroes like Konstantinas Kalinauskas (also known as Konstanty Kalinowski in Polish and Kastus Kalinouski in Belarusian) into battle, no matter what the balance of power is.

"Without freedom, we would be all but the mass of zombies, like the ones we unfortunately see not only in the movies, but also in real life so close to us," the prime minister said, adding that everything must be done for Ukraine to win and to see the end of Russian imperialism and the Lukashenko regime.

"To see the release of all political prisoners in Belarus, free and fair elections and an international tribunal for Putin, Lukashenko and everyone who has taken away countless lives, broken faiths, turned cities into ruins, but who will never manage to break the people who are free," Simonyte said.

The first Kalinowski Forum was held in Vilnius in August 2020 after Belarus' presidential election.

This forum serves as a platform for dissidents to express their opinions, formulate common strategies against authoritarian regimes in the region, and restore democracy in the states.