On 9 August of this year after the presidential elections in Belarus protests began in the country. Those who disagreed with the falsified victory of incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko came out to protests and began to strike. At the same time, the European Union and other states have announced that they do not recognize the results of the presidential elections, according to which Lukashenko won 80% of votes, whereas his opponent Svetlana Tikhanouskaya – 10%.
As the protests continued together with Lukashenko’s brutal policy against his own population, the EU authorities decided to impose sanctions on those who were involved in the repression of protests and conducting the electoral fraud. Apart from that, the European Commission took a decision to reroute 53 million euros that firstly were intended for Belarus away from the government and towards civil society in the wake of protests and the coronavirus pandemic.
Among all the states that supported Belarussians’ fight for freedom and democracy the most active were Baltic and Central European states. On August 19, the presidents of the Visegrad Group (V4) grouping of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia issued a joint statement on Belarus, calling to open the way for the political solution while refraining from the use of violence against demonstrators. At the same time, citizens of all four states supported Belarussians performing massive demonstrations together with local Belarussians in capitals of the V4 states.
His support to Belarussian people expressed Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki on 11 September at a press conference following the meeting in Lublin of the heads of government of the Visegrad Group. “We want to offer the Belarusian people a project of economic cooperation,” he said, explaining that the matter concerns, among other things, energy security, cooperation in the information and infrastructure sectors. Therefore, the V4 at the upcoming extraordinary EU summit on 24-25 of September will present a package of support for the Belarusian people. On the expected summit V4 will try to agree with other states on a common position, putting pressure on the European Union to do more for the people of Belarus.
Additionally, V4 wants to offer visa-free movement for Belarussians. Earlier, in this year, ratification of the agreements on visa facilitation and readmission between Belarus and the European Union has been completed but Belarussians could not reap the benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It should be mentioned that the V4 states have previously expressed such united support related to opening the borders with members of Eastern Partnership who have signed an Association Agreement. This kind of attitude could be described with the close social and economic links with those states and willingness of V4 to support strong neighborhood relations with them. Additionally, members of the V4 could clearly remember the period of the Cold War, when they also fought for their freedom from totalitarian rule and faced serious problems with the freedom to travel before entry to the Schengen area in 2007.