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Aurescu: Romania to continue to call on Belarus authorities to stop repression and intimidation

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Bogdan Aurescu

Romania will continue to call on Belarusian authorities, its proxies and sponsors, to stop repression and intimidation, to start a genuine inclusive dialogue with the opposition and the civil society, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Wednesday.

He gave a speech at the opening of the "EU and Belarus in 2021" event, organized online by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) think tank, in cooperation with the Romanian, Lithuanian and Polish embassies in Paris.

"Romania will continue to call on the Belarusian authorities, and its proxies and sponsors, to stop repression and intimidation, to start a genuine inclusive dialogue with the opposition and the civil society, and to act responsibly for building social peace and prosperity, based on democracy and respect for fundamental rights in a free, independent and sovereign Belarus," said the head of Romanian diplomacy, according to a speech sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE).

He spoke of the violence that has taken place in the country since the presidential election.

"The international partners of Belarus, including Romania, repeatedly condemned the violence against peaceful civilians and called for stopping the repression and, of course, the initiation of a peaceful inclusive political dialogue. Unfortunately, the situation on the ground has not improved, on the contrary: continuous and increasing brutality of the regime against its citizens led to losses of human lives, thousands of arrests, cases of torture, political prisoners, a situation that should not and will not be tolerated," Aurescu pointed out.

According to the foreign minister, Belarusian citizens "aspire for democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental rights."

"They have the legitimate expectation for an opportunity to make their own decision on the future of their country. They request respect for their fundamental rights enshrined in international law. We cannot remain passive. We have to call for the support for those who express themselves for the values which are important for all of us," he said.

At the same time, he spoke about the support of sanctions, in the current situation.

"Romania reaffirms its will to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path, through a state leadership democratically elected, a free civil society, free market and the rule of law. At the same time, we have supported, and continue to do so, the measure of sanctions against those responsible for the repression and election fraud, as well as against those who sponsor such acts. These restrictive measures are meant to keep pressure on those acting against the will of the people for democracy, fundamental rights and civil liberties," the foreign minister added.

Aurescu recalled, in the context, the active role in supporting the citizens of Belarus that Romania has assumed since the beginning of the political crisis in this state generated by election fraud, through a series of diplomatic efforts within the EU, UN, OSCE. He also highlighted Romania's voluntary contribution of 100,000 euros to support Belarusian civil society and independent journalism through the European Endowment for Democracy, as well as the Romanian Government's decision to award 100 scholarships to Belarusian students, which will be operational in the near future, the MAE also shows.

Along with the Romanian minister, also speaking in the opening of the event were Svetlana Tihanovskaia, a prominent representative of the Belarusian Opposition, as well as the foreign ministers of France, Lithuania and Poland.

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