Cabinet of Representatives of Tsikhanouskaya: why do we need a conference on Belarus in Vienna and who will be there on behalf of Belarusians

Photo: Svetlana Tihanovskaya's press office
3 mins

На русском языке: Кабинет представителей Тихановской: зачем нужна конференция о Беларуси в Вене и кто там будет от имени беларусов
На беларускай мове: Кабінет прадстаўнікоў Ціханоўскай: навошта патрэбная канферэнцыя пра Беларусь у Вене і хто там будзе ад імя беларусаў

On 22 November, Austria will organize a high-level conference on resolving the crisis in Belarus. On November 21-23, the conference will host a number of discussions and consultations between representatives of the democratic forces of Belarus and international partners. The cabinet of Representatives of Svetlana Tihanovskaya in the person of Valery Kavaleuski and Counselor Franak Viacorka answered the main questions.

Are these the same negotiations you called for in March?

The idea of the conference was expressed by both Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushko, and the Coordination Council in the spring, when Belarusians voted for negotiations to resolve the crisis in Belarus. But since then, the regime has made many mistakes, hijacked a plane, intensified repression, and staged a migration crisis. Prisoners for political reasons are not released — the condition for the start of negotiations has not been fulfilled, which means that no negotiations can begin.

What do you want to achieve from this event? Why do Belarusians need it?

At the conference, the EU and the United States, together with the democratic forces, will discuss a joint strategy for action. As long as innocent people remain in prisons in Belarus, international pressure on the regime will only increase. The EU and the US agree on this.

Is there a risk that this meeting will be the first step towards recognition of the regime in the international arena?

No. Remember Makei’s meetings with Western players – the only thing they talked about with him was the position of the democratic forces: the release and rehabilitation of prisoners for political reasons – and only then – the start of negotiations on new elections.

Pro-regime experts say they have already been invited to the conference. Is it true? Will Tsikhanouskaya conduct a dialogue with them?

No, the representatives of Austria have not yet sent out invitations, and in this matter they consult with the Tsihanouskaya Office. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya herself will participate at the conference only in a high-level political panel – together with ministers and ambassadors of the EU and the United States. Experts may participate only in expert discussions.

Is it possible that the Europeans will begin to negotiate with the regime behind the backs of the Belarusians?

No, recently the Europeans have only increased sanctions pressure on the regime and are preparing the fifth package of sanctions. Moreover, an increasing number of countries communicate with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the democratic forces as the main representatives of the Belarusian people.

Why is this conference bad for the regime anyway?

Because if the regime sent its representatives who are allowed to make decisions, then it would mean that Lukashenko «surrendered» and recognized the democratic forces as representatives of Belarusians. And when the regime is not represented at the conference, it means that the issues of Belarus continue to be discussed without its participation.

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