VILNIUS – The presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland have issued a joint declaration calling on the Belarusian authorities to end violence against the country's citizens and expressing support for Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda's mediation initiative, the Lithuanian presidential office said on Thursday.
"We urge to stop violence and call for respect of fundamental freedoms, human and citizen rights including the freedom of speech, media, assembly and safety of journalists; urgently release all detained protesters, stop further persecution; immediately initiate a dialogue with the Belarusian people," the joint declaration reads.
The four presidents are also calling on the Belarusian authorities to hear the voice of the country's citizens and let them speak out freely about the situation in the country and the results of last Sunday's presidential election.
"Based on the experience of our own societies, and on our personal experience, we urge you to organize a national reconciliation roundtable, comprised of representatives of the government and civil society. This would represent an appropriate step in launching a genuine national dialogue. We strongly believe that dialogue is always the best path to advance social development, discuss reforms and the future of your country," the declaration reads.
Issuing the declaration, the presidents agreed that if the Belarusian authorities meet these requirements, the doors for cooperation with the international community will remain open as isolation is not a way for any nation’s prosperity and development.
"We stand ready to offer our mediation efforts to reach a peaceful solution in Belarus and to strengthen your country’s independence and sovereignty. Sanctions should be imposed only after mediation is tried. Mediation is a diplomatic measure to resolve a crisis, and we must us it," the Lithuanian president said.
The Belarusian authorities announced on Monday that President Alexander Lukashenko had won a sixth term with 80 percent of the vote in Sunday's election.
The result, dismissed by the opposition as rigged, sparked bloody classes between protesters and police in Minsk and other Belarusian cities.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leading opposition candidate, left Belarus for Lithuania on Tuesday.