Norwegian state secretary in talks with Belarusian opposition leader

‘We are impressed by the Belarusian people’s courage and tenacity, and by the untiring efforts of Ms Tikhanovskaya,’ said State Secretary Audun Halvorsen.

State Secretary Audun Halvorsen of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has today held political talks with the Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

‘We are very concerned about the situation in Belarus. This is why Norway considers it very important to maintain good dialogue with the Belarusian democracy movement. We must keep up the pressure so that the Belarusian people’s legitimate demands for democracy and respect for human rights can be met,’ said Mr Halvorsen.

Ms Tikhanovskaya was a candidate in the disputed presidential election in Belarus in August 2020, and is now leading the opposition’s fight for a democratic Belarus from her exile in Lithuania. At their virtual meeting, Ms Tikhanovskaya and Mr Halvorsen discussed the constant violations of human rights in Belarus and the refusal of the authorities to enter into dialogue with the political opposition. They also talked about the need to bring the violence to an end and for all political prisoners to be released.

‘Violence against peaceful demonstrators and human rights defenders is unacceptable. Norway has therefore joined 18 other states in establishing the International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB), which will collect and document evidence of human rights violations in the country,’ said Mr Halvorsen.

The IAPB is made up of independent human rights organisations, and will collect and preserve documentation of human rights violations in Belarus for possible use in future criminal proceedings, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable. Norway will provide around NOK 4 million in support of its work.

Norway supports Ms Tikhanovskaya’s initiative for international mediation to underpin dialogue between the opposition and the authorities. The political crisis can only be resolved through peaceful means. Norway supports the demand for a genuine, inclusive dialogue between Belarusian authorities, the political opposition and civil society, with the aim of holding new, free and fair elections this year.

Norway has increased funding for supporting civil society and strengthening human rights in Belarus, and has sought to put the situation in the country higher on the agenda in international organisations, including the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

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