2021-11-24

On 24 November 2021 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addressed the European Parliament in a 30-minute keynote speech. The Belarusian politician called for more decisive measures the Belarusian official authorities. Tsikhanouskaya recalled that repressions in Belarus have only intensified: civil society in the country has been crushed, as well as the independent media. Activists, journalists, human rights defenders and ordinary people who dare to express their opinion different from that of the current authorities are behind bars; hundreds of people convicted after the 2020 elections are in prison.

“Since August 2020, there have been ample gestures and expressions of solidarity. Belarusians were praised for reigniting their faith in democracy and human dignity. Is it not the turn for Europeans to demonstrate their commitment to those values with action? Will Europe as a whole have the courage to take decisive action now? Or will we wait another year? Dear ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have another year. Neither does Belarus. Neither does Europe. There is more we can do than just wait and react.” 

“We need Europe to be more proactive when facing autocracy. The cliche about Belarus being ‘the last dictatorship of Europe’ is, in a way, misleading. Dictatorship does not have natural geographical limits. It spreads if it is not stopped. Dictatorships, after all, can be compared to a virus infecting the body. We all know that the more disease is ignored, the more difficult it is to treat it in the future. It’s now clear to the whole world that waiting and seeing is not the right strategy to address the virus. Action is crucial. To successfully overcome a virus a three-part strategy can help. First, isolation to prevent its spread. Second, treatment to remove its negative effects. And last but not least, the immunity which allows keeping the body in good shape. The same strategies can be applied by Europe when dealing with the virus of dictatorship in Belarus.”