VILNIUS – Lithuania has preconditions for resuming its cooperation with Belarus, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.
"We have preconditions. Not even for our dialogue, but just one precondition – to stop the flow of migrants. Also, he must go and new elections should be held, but we will be able to talk about it later," Landsbergis told journalists at the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday.
His comment came in response to a statement of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, not recognized by the West, that Minsk' ready to resume dialogue with Vilnius but without any preconditions.
Lithuania has been recently facing a spike in illegal migrants crossing into the country's territory from Belarus, and has a state-level extreme situation declared. Lithuania has also recently made the decision to push back incoming migrants.
Over 4,000 illegal migrants have entered Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Lithuania maintains that the influx of migrants is being orchestrated by the Belarusian regime.
Lukashenko told a press conference on Monday he might step down as Belarusian president "very soon". But the Lithuanian foreign minister says he has doubts about Lukashenko's sincerity.
"If this is what the Belarusian opposition is talking about, to resign and hold new, internationally-recognized elections, then it’s understandable. But if that's imitational withdrawal, by setting up some council and becoming its president and de fact controlling the state, then it's not withdrawal," Landsbergis said.
The foreign minister also stressed that the European Union should continue to maintain its position that "as long Lukashenko is in power, we won’t recognize him".
The re-election in August, 2020 of Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, sparked several months of mass demonstrations in Belarus. Force and representations against peaceful protesters followed and trials of protesters are still taking place in Belarus, with around 600 people deeded political prisoners.
The Belarusian opposition and Western diplomats consider the Belarusian presidential election rigged.