Press Release: JEF Europe statement on the Belarusian Presidential election

In the aftermath of the Belarusian presidential election of Sunday 9 August 2020 JEF Europe is, like most of civil society and politicians in democratic countries, deeply concerned with the outlandish attempts to rig this election and to claim that 80% of Belarusians support the continuation of Lukashenko in office, especially when no international impartial observers such as the OSCE were present. We are also sad, and angry, at the use of repressive tactics and violence against journalists and ordinary citizens. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has been forced to seek safe harbour in Lithuania to ensure her own safety. 

JEF Europe wholeheartedly endorses the statement by the Belarusian National Youth Council, RADA, consisting of  27 democratic youth organisations, and the demands made within. 

Furthermore, we urge all European national governments to impress the above demands, and the urgency of their implementation, upon the Lukashenko regime. We call on the President of the Commission to lead this effort, in coordination with the High Representative of the Union on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the President of the European Council.

As European Federalists, we know that a united and decisive European response is the best course of action available to preserve and protect European people and our common values. We therefore urge the President of the European Council to immediately accept the Polish government’s proposal for an extraordinary meeting to take place to discuss the situation in Belarus and the much-needed European response. This meeting should keep all options on the table, moving beyond mere words and instead move to concrete support for civil society, economic sanctions, and if necessary, even the deployment of force to protect civilians, within an international law framework. The public ‘threats’ of some national governments to veto again highlight how urgently needed a European foreign policy is. Whatever the solution agreed upon, it needs to be decisive, targeted, in support and in respect of our common values.

In the meantime, we encourage our members and friends to remain vigilant. Chris Powers, contact person for Belarus on JEF’s Executive Board notes: “It is hard to watch atrocities take place in a third country and feel like there is not a lot you can do, but it is important that we do not turn away from what is happening. The pressure of international attention may limit the use of force, and may as well pressure EU  leaders to intervene in a more impactful way. But most importantly, it lets the people of Belarus know that they are not alone. Lukashenko has been described, for the past 26 years of autocratic rule, as ‘the last dictator of Europe’. I wish this sentence were still true. Rather, it seems that Lukashenko may inspire others, within and outside the EU. As Europeans, we must understand that every fight for democracy and freedom is our fight. It was clear in Ukraine, in Maidan, several years ago. It was clear in Budapest, in front of the main TV broadcaster, some weeks ago. It is clear today in Minsk: Belarus’ future is democratic and European. JEF Europe will work with anyone who shares with us this goal.” 

If you have money to spare, there is a fundraiser to support protesters in Belarus which you can donate to.

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000  members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

Since 2006, JEF Europe has organised an annual “Free Belarus” action to draw attention across Europe to the authoritarian regime of Aleksander Lukashenko, commonly referred to as Europe’s last dictator. There has been democratic backsliding across the continent since then, and so JEF’s Free Belarus action broadened into the campaign ‘Democracy under Pressure’ in which JEF Europe calls out abuses of human rights and the rule of law.

Contact information

Chris Powers
Rue d’Arlon 53
1000 Brussels