Angela Merkel calls Belarus opposition leader to support free elections amid migrant crisis

Belarus' opposition leader in exile Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has discussed the nation's migrant crisis with Germany's Angela Merkel.

Belarusian Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya Visits Berlin

Belarusian opposition leader in exile Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Source: Getty

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked on the phone with Belarusian opposition leader in exile
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya about the political crisis in Belarus and the "difficult situation" at the border with the European Union, a government spokesperson said on Monday.

"The Chancellor underlined the continued support of the Federal Government for the Belarusian democracy movement and stressed that the political leadership of the country must end the repression against the opposition and independent journalists, release prisoners and enter into a serious dialogue with society in order to resolve the crisis through fair and free elections," German spokesperson Steffen Seibert said.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya thanked Chancellor Merkel for a "warm exchange" on Twitter, saying the pair "discussed how to help Belarus' political prisoners and migrants on the border". 

Belarus' political crisis "should be resolved through a free election. We need to be decisive and brave", she wrote. 

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed a resounding victory in last year's presidential election despite the widely held view that the vote was fraudulent.

Various opposition groups say Ms Tsikhanouskaya won.

The resulting crackdown has involved hundreds thrown in prison and there have been allegations that opposition activists were tortured.

It also spurred a lively opposition movement in countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Germany where many Belarusians live.

In the latest confrontation between the EU and Minsk since the election, Europe accuses Belarus of flying in thousands of people from the Middle East and pushing them to cross the Polish border into the EU.

On Sunday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the migrant crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, the European Union's eastern frontier, the "greatest attempt to destabilise Europe" since the Cold War.

Mr Morawiecki tweeted that President Lukashenko had "launched a hybrid war against the EU. This is (the) greatest attempt to destabilise Europe in 30 years".

"Poland will not yield to blackmail and will do everything to defend the EU's borders."

He warned that "today the target is Poland, but tomorrow it will be Germany, Belgium, France or Spain".

With reporting by AFP

Published 23 November 2021 at 7:05am, updated 23 November 2021 at 7:26am
Source: Reuters - SBS