Statement by Minister Byrne on Belarus
Statement11 November 2021
I am appalled by the escalation of events orchestrated by Lukashenko at the external border of the European Union. His cynical exploitation of migrants for political purposes should cease.
Ireland stands with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in resisting Lukashenko’s attempts to provoke a violent confrontation on our external borders. We need to see a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, and we call on the Belarussian regime to stop playing with people’s lives. International aid workers and experts must be allowed to assist migrants trapped on the border. Belarus must also allow people to return to Minsk and subsequently travel back to countries of origin. They should not be holding them hostage, with armed security cutting off their way back.
Ireland is supporting and co-sponsoring a fifth package of sanctions against individuals and entities complicit in Lukashenko’s weaponisation of migration and his violations of human rights. We hope the new measures will be introduced in the coming days.
The Irish Government and members of both houses of the Oireachtas have been unwavering in their support for a democratic transition for Belarus. Last month, I met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the opposition Coordination Council, in Vilnius. There, Ms Tsikhanouskaya and much of the rest of the Belarusian opposition lead a campaign-in-exile for the right of the people of Belarus to choose their own leadership. I expressed Ireland’s support for the opposition’s struggle, and our hope that a brighter future is in store for Belarus.