Sant on Belarus: ‘You can’t condemn Russian interference and invite EU to do the same’

Labour MEP supports Belarus condemnation resolution but warns MEPs against any direct EU intervention

Strongman’s club: Belarus authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin
Strongman’s club: Belarus authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin

Alfred Sant has voted in favour of a resolution that condemned the current state of affairs in Belarus, but - typically of the Labour MEP - expressed doubts on major elements of the text as presented.

In a resolution adopted by 574 votes in favour, 37 against with 82 abstentions, the European Parliament rejected the official results of the presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August this year, as these elections were conducted in a “flagrant violation of all internationally recognised standards”.

But Sant has warned against any EU direct intervention, and called for a process of national reconciliation and democratization in Belarus.

“Requests for direct intervention by the EU can easily boomerang while statements indicating the recognition of a Belarusian political leader as president-elect seem premature and politically motivated,” Sant, a former prime minister, said.

In an explanation of his vote, Sant said that events following the presidential elections have left the country destabilized and said the political system in Belarus had reached an unacceptable level of state repression aimed to reinforce a totalitarian government.

“Though I am personally averse to this Parliament pronouncing itself on the affairs of outside countries, there come moments when solidarity with the struggle for democracy and against dictatorship overrides all other considerations. So, while not taking part in the main separate votes on this report, I voted in favour of the final text, as a gesture of solidarity with the Belarusian people in their fight for liberty,” Sant said.

The European Parliament cannot condemn Russian interference in Belarusian affairs, while inviting Union actors to do the same, Sant said. “A real risk is that Belarus becomes yet another theatre for confrontation between the EU’s soft power and Russia’s realpolitik.”

The resolution adopted by the European Parliament also notes that, once the term of office for the incumbent leader Alexander Lukashenko expires on 5 November, the European Parliament will no longer recognise him as the president of the country.

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