Why Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Puts Democracy First

Interview with Gabrielius Landsbergis on Belarus, China and the transatlantic link

17 December 2021

Vilnius sees security and energy developments in Central and Eastern Europe through the prism of democratic security advocated by Joe Biden’s administration.

Linas Kojala: Lithuania has been actively supporting Belarusian civil society and their democratic aspirations. More than a year has passed since the mass protests in Belarus against the illegitimate regime of Lukashenko, yet he remains ‘de facto’ in power. What is your evaluation of the current situation in Belarus? Is enough being done by the West to maintain pressure on the regime?

Gabrielius Landsbergis: I would have to say this change has happened and Belarus now has — in one way or another — a developed civil society. I remember pictures from last year’s election where — in some cases — even the police joined the rallies in support of the elected president Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and against the usurper Lukashenko.

The scope of these protests later diminished but we can be sure that those people knew the reason why they went out to protest in the streets. This is a revolution that’s still taking place. It hasn’t materialised in an institutional sense — as power is still in the hands of Lukashenko and his people — but that will obviously be a long process. The story is not over and this chapter of history has not yet been written. The question remains — who will be writing it?

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Linas Kojala

Linas Kojala is the Director of the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, a think tank in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Lecturer at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University. He is currently serving as an associate at the negotiation task force, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University. He was a Baltic Sea Fellow in FPRI’s Eurasia Program in 2020.

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