Belarus’ abuse of vulnerable people despicable, says NATO PA President, calls for continued pressure

18 November 2021

Following the continued hybrid actions by Belarus and the worsening of the migration crisis along the borders with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, NATO PA President Gerald E. Connolly (United States) issued the following statement: 

“The continued weaponisation of migration by the Lukashenko regime is the most repugnant form of hybrid actions. Using people seeking refuge from conflict zones for the regime’s political purposes and putting their lives and health in grave danger is absolutely unacceptable. The Lukashenko regime’s cynical actions are merely meant to distract from its sustained violations of human rights since the 2020 sham elections and to pressure the international community to lift sanctions on his regime. 

The Assembly stands in full solidarity with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and supports the efforts, guided by applicable international law, to protect the eastern border of NATO and of the EU against this manufactured migration crisis. 

Belarus must put a stop to its callous actions, avoid any further escalation or provocation, respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of these vulnerable people, allow the delivery of international humanitarian assistance and abide by international law. 

I am encouraged that both NATO and the EU are taking this problem seriously, in close cooperation, and have taken strong steps, providing much needed assistance to these frontline countries. Our governments must use all diplomatic means available to deter Lukashenko from using migrants as bargaining chips.  

Governments must also continue to talk and work with countries of origin and transit, so that vulnerable populations are not misused by the Belarusian dictatorship. I commend recent steps by several countries, including by Turkey and NATO partner Iraq.  

The brazen acts by the Lukashenko regime once again make it clear that Europe and North America’s democracies must stand together in sharp contrast to autocracies and continue to defend an international order based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” 

Last week, a delegation of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly visited Lithuania to discuss the crisis along the border with Belarus with parliamentarians, high-level government representatives and border officials.  

At the 2021 Annual Session in October, the Economics and Security Committee also adopted a report on Belarus: Political, Economic, and Diplomatic Challenges

The Parliament of Belarus was granted Associate membership in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in 1992 but its status remains suspended since 1997. 

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