US, Poland Urge Lukashenko To Engage Civil Society


US, Poland urge Lukashenko to engage civil society

Warsaw, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Aug, 2020 ) :The United States and Poland on Saturday appealed for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to engage with civil society, as the strongman leader faces the biggest challenge to his rule since taking power in 1994.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Warsaw, said he had been consulting with European partners since a disputed presidential election in Belarus on August 9.

"The common objective is to support the Belarusian people to achieve their own sovereignty, their own freedom, to build out what you're seeing happen in these protests," he said.

"We urge the leadership of Belarus to broaden the circle... to engage with civil society in a way that reflects the central understandings that the Belarusian people are demanding," Pompeo said at a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz.

EU and NATO members Poland and neighbouring Lithuania, which is giving refuge to Belarusian opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, have taken a lead in European diplomacy on Belarus.

Tikhanovskaya on Friday announced the creation of a Coordination Council to ensure a transfer of power, asking foreign governments to "help us in organising a dialogue with Belarusian authorities".

"We call on Belarusian authorities to begin respecting fundamental human rights and engage in a dialogue with society," Czaputowicz said on Saturday, reiterating Poland's call for new free and fair elections to be held.

Poland and the US also signed a defence agreement that will allow an additional 1,000 US troops to be deployed to Poland on top of the 4,500 already there.

The Pentagon has said the United States would send home some 6,400 military personnel from Germany and move nearly 5,600 more to other NATO countries.

Trump has a tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who declined his invitation for a Group of Seven summit in Washington in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and he accuses Europe's largest economy of unfair trading practices.