Romania to allot EUR 100,000 to endorse independent journalism and civil society in Belarus

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Romania will allot EUR 100,000 to endorse the civil society and independent mass media in Belarus amid existing protests, Romanian FM Bogdan Aurescu announce on Twitter Wednesday.

Belarus is facing a wave of massive rallies since the recent presidential elections that the authoritarian leader Aleksander Lukashenko has won by 80% of the votes.

The “reprehensible” steps taken by the Minsk government “cannot remain without an adequate response from the EU,” Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said before attending the informal Gymnich meeting of foreign ministers of the European Union, due on Thursday and Friday in Berlin.

According to Aurescu, Romania will support “sanctioning those guilty of the abuses committed in the electoral and post-electoral context” in Belarus.

The situation in Belarus continues to be of the utmost concern, and  I also refer to the recent decisions taken by the authorities to detain members of the Opposition’s Coordinating Council and other representatives of the protest movement. These reprehensible steps of the power in Mink cannot be left without an adequate response from the EU. I will reiterate in the discussions with my European colleagues in Berlin the support for sanctioning those guilty of abuses committed in the electoral and post-electoral context,” the Romanian FM said in a MAE press release.

He pointed out that the meeting would address “the best ways to support concretely civil society, the free press and the people of Belarus.”

“Therefore, I will inform my counterparts that I have started the procedure to allot a voluntary financial contribution of EUR 100,000 from the budget for development assistance and humanitarian assistance for 2020, managed by the MAE and the International Development Cooperation Agency (RoAid), in order to support independent journalism and civil society in Belarus,” FM Aurescu added.

Since August 9, when the election outcome confirmed Lukashenko had won another term, demonstrators thave taken to the streets in Minsk and other cities, keeping up their demand for the resignation of the President-elect.

European Council President Charles Michel said last week that the European Union would “shortly” impose “sanctions on a substantial number of individuals responsible for violence, repression and election fraud” after an emergency summit of the bloc’s leaders on the “increasingly concerning situation” in the country.

“On August 9th, Belarus held elections. These elections were neither free nor fair and did not meet international standards. We don’t recognize the results presented by the Belarus authorities,” Michel said, adding that “the people of Belarus deserve the democratic right to choose their leaders and shape their future.”
Michel also condemned the “shocking and unacceptable” violence against “peaceful protesters.”
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya remains in Lithuania, where she fled to after the disputed presidential election.
In retort, Lukashenko insists he has been elected legally, claiming that Belarus is being threatened by “foreign forces” that want to toppled him down.

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