Open Letter from the Forum 2000 Shared Concern Initiative: “The Last Totalitarian Country in Europe”
Note from the Editor: While the following open letter is not exactly a speech per se, it is a document to which our chairman contributed, and which regards a very important, and vastly under-reported issue. In the interest of giving the letter as much exposure as possible, we thus are posting it here. The letter is the product of a group of influential public leaders called the “Shared Concern Initiative.” More information about the group can be found at the Forum 2000 website, via the link at the bottom of the page.
Although it may seem that in our present time there are not any important issues that we would not be aware of, there are many significant facts which are unknown or known only to a limited number of people. One of those “information black holes” is, for quite a long time, Belarus situated on the very eastern borders of Europe.
This country of ten million inhabitants has been for over 11 years ruled by Alexander Lukashenka for whom the governance means extensive abuse of the basic human and citizens’ rights on daily basis, removal and imprisonment of his opponents and journalists and deception of people by mass media under his control.
Last autumn in a bogus referendum Lukashenka had had removed two consecutive terms limit on presidency and thus he had made the first step to prolong his rule beyond 2006 when his current term expires.
Since then for a number of months, largely unnoticed by most media and politicians of the democratic world, the last remains of non-governmental organizations, independent press and political parties that could thwart the plans of Belarus autocrat on prolonging his rule ad infinitum are systematically being liquidated. The information blockade of the country is growing, opportunities for young people to study abroad are being limited, and the last independent daily “Narodnaja Volja” is about to be closed down. Alexander Lukashenka can get away with all of this not only due to unsavoury legacy of totally decimated post-soviet social and societal structures, but also due to lack of interest in the fate of Belarus on the part of the democratic countries.
We are, therefore, convinced that it is necessary to make use of every opportunity to break through this wall of lack of interest and inability on the part of the democratic community in order to take a stand against this post-soviet autocrat and his efforts to totally suppress the remains of independent initiatives in Belarus. At the same time it is necessary to continue in developing contacts and cooperation with Belarus’ independent initiatives. European Union that so far has not been able to support efforts aiming at building Belarus based on democratic values should speedily seek such instruments that enable this process. At the same time the EU should fully open its exchange and educational programs for democratically oriented young people of Belarus. The EU should, together with Ukraine, quickly react to the proposal by EU parliamentarians Janusz Onyszkiewicz and Bogdan Klich to enable the people of Belarus an access to non-censored, non-manipulated information through radio and TV broadcasts from neighbouring countries. We call for creating a common strategy for the EU, USA and all other democratic countries that ought to be interested in the democratisation of Belarus.
- Václav Havel
- Frederik Willem de Klerk
- Mary Robinson
- Desmond Tutu
- Michael Novak
- André Glucksmann
- Mike Moore (fmr. Prime Minister of New Zealand)
- Yohei Sasakawa
- Richard von Weizsacker
- Prince El Hassan bin Talal
- Vartan Gregorian
- Karel Schwarzenberg
- George Soros