Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Lithuania and Latvia, the first in the two Baltic countries, is closely watched not only by hosts but also by neighbors in Belarus and Russia.
In Vilnius, the local leadership relies on a clear support of Macron in the face of Russian pressure in the Belarusian case. An expectation that is difficult to put into practice by the Elysee leader, reports Europe 1.
While Lithuania is fully on the side of anti-Lukashenko protesters, even imposing sanctions on high-ranking officials of the current Minsk government, the European Union is slow to take similar action. For his part, Macron called for a dialogue with Russia in resolving the Belarusian crisis. “I happened to talk to Vladimir Putin on September 14, the day he received Lukashenko in Sochi. I told him that Russia has a role to play, and that role can be positive if it causes Lukashenko to respect the truth of the ballot box and release political prisoners. That was two weeks ago, we are still a long way off, “the French president said in an interview with the Journal du dimanche and published on the eve of his trip to Lithuania. Macron must now explain to Lithuanians how he sees Russia’s role in the Belarus crisis, given that the two sides have been strained since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. There are questions as to whether Paris is too close to Moscow on certain issues. sensitive, notes Europe 1.
In Lithuania, the French president could meet with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tshanouskaya, who fled her country immediately after the August 9 elections for fear of falling victim to Lukashenko’s repression, as did her husband. However, according to information obtained by Europe 1, the French presidency is reluctant to hold the meeting, a testament to Emmanuel Macron’s delicate position.
Tyhanouskaya again asks Macron to be the “mediator” of the Belarusian crisis
On Monday, hours before Macron’s visit to Lithuania, Sviatlana Tshanouskaya again urged the French president to be “the mediator we desperately need” to resolve the Belarusian crisis.
“Mr Macron could be this mediator and could be able to influence Mr Putin, with whom he has good relations,” the Belarusian opponent told AFP.
She also requested a meeting with Macron.
Protests in Belarus continue despite repression by the Lukashenko regime. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Belarus on Sunday, and about 200 were arrested by law enforcement. Another 150 protesters were arrested on Saturday.
Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, is pressured into the streets to resign. The opposition accuses him of remaining in power through fraud.