Interview with Die WELT on Latest Developments in Belarus
GMF Senior Fellow and Director for Central and Eastern Europe Jörg Forbrig spoke to German daily Die WELT on the recent developments in Belarus and the subsided protest movement against Alexander Lukaschenko. Topics discussed included the protest movement, the government’s willingness to use violence, and Europe’s approach towards Belarus. According to Forbrig, the EU is now already giving legitimacy to the democracy movement, including Germany. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was received by all of political Berlin, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. He also noted that given that human rights violations are incomparably more serious this time, the EU, as a democratic community, could not afford to re-approach Lukashenko without massively damaging its credibility. “On the contrary, it must take tougher action against the regime and support the democracy movement more aggressively,” Forbrig stated. He further noted that “In Germany and France, there is often a tendency to look to Moscow first when it comes to Eastern Europe. This is a false consideration toward Russia.” He added that the lack of action represents a disregard of fundamental “European principles of self-determination, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Germany in particular must learn to stand up for these principles more confidently.” Speaking to the role of the new U.S. administration, Fobrig noted that democracy and human rights are more important for this administration than for its predecessor. He believes that Central and Eastern Europe will receive more attention again and that Washington will become more involved here. In his view, there will be better coordination with the EU, such as joint sanctions, which is good news for the democracy movement in Belarus.