Lithuania, Poland, Romania Urge EU to Offer Trade, Visa-Free Travel to Belarus

September 21, 2020 Updated: September 21, 2020

VILNIUS—The presidents of Lithuania, Poland, and Romania will ask European Union leaders at a summit later this week to offer a support package for Belarus if the country holds a democratic election.

The proposed package would include a favorable trade regime with the EU, visa-free travel, and support in negotiations to enter the World Trade Organization, according to the statement from the three presidents to the EU leaders seen by Reuters.

Belarus protest
Protesters with old Belarusian national flags march during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, on Sept. 20, 2020. ( Photo)

Financial assistance for reforms, and help to diversify its energy sector and transition towards liberal economy was also part of the support package.

The support would only be offered after “new, democratic elections” with international observers in the country, the Lithuanian president’s office told Reuters.

Belarus protest
A Belarus opposition supporter punches the air during a demonstration in central Minsk on Aug. 16, 2020. (Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images)

“If Belarus citizens decide to undergo political and economic reforms in the country, to establish independent institutions to defend human rights and freedom of speech—we will help with our knowledge and experience,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.

Poland wants the European Union to offer Belarus financial assistance of at least 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) as part of a “Marshal plan” to rebuild the country, Prime Minster Mateusz Morawiecki said last Thursday.

Belarus protest
A girl covers with an old Belarusian National flag as people stand near the place where Alexander Taraikovsky died amid the clashes protesting the election results, in Minsk, on Aug. 24, 2020. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Photo)

Belarus was plunged into turmoil following a presidential election last month that President Alexander Lukashenko says he won by a landslide, but the opposition says was rigged. In power for 26 years, he has shown scant inclination to resign, buoyed by support from Russia.

The EU has said it would impose sanctions on Minsk for alleged election fraud and human rights abuses but has yet to do so.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the single market, industrial policy and digital transformation, the coronavirus pandemic, and foreign relations.

By Andrius Sytas