The leader of the European Belarus civic campaign met the US vice-president Joe Biden and senator John McCain.
A forum “How we can effectively support freedom and democracy” took place on 26-27 April in Sedona (Arizona, USA). The event was organized by McCain institute of the University of Arizona
The vice-president of the United States Joe Biden, senator John McCain, senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, Sheldon Whitehouse, former senators John Keel and Joseph Lieberman, the presidents of Georgia and Macedonia Mikhail Saakashvili and George Ivanov, the Minister of Defense of Canada Peter MacKay, the president of non-governmental organization Freedom House David Kramer, the president of General Electric Jeff Immelt, the president of Wal-Mart Bill Simon, the leader of the European Belarus civic campaign and 2010 presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, former Prime-Minister of Russia Mikhail Kasianov, heads of human rights organizations, ambassadors, including a former US ambassador to NATO Kurt Walker, who was one of the forum’s organizers, took part in the forum.
The forum was opened with a talk between senator John McCain and vice-president Joe Biden, who discussed the current problems of international politics. The talk was about the US’ domestic and foreign policy, common values of the Republicans and Democrats, about the role of America in the world. Biden and McCain, despite belonging to different parties, showed sincere interpersonal relations (which greatly impressed all the forum’s participants) and their adherence to increasing the significance of the US’ role in the world.
Very acute modern day problems were looked into at the forum. Naturally, the accent was made on how the United States can and must assist democracy development.
The leader of the European Belarus made a speech in the section, which was called “Less free Europe?”. The discussion was led by the vice-president of the Atlantic Council Daemon Wilson, who is very well familiar with the situation in Belarus.
“I spoke on the situation in Belarus, that Belarus started its independent existence as a responsible and reliable partner in international relations, as an active participant of the disarmament process, including nuclear disarmament, and strengthening of international security. The regime Lukashenka today is not only known for its mass violations of human rights, but poses a threat to security in the region and the world. In particular, there are calls for Belarus’ withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The situation in Belarus today cannot be viewed as a problem of a separate country. This problem has become regional as we can see from the processes, which are taking place in Russia and Ukraine.
The authoritarian model is spreading at a very fast pace, and the democratic world has not found ways to firmly resist it. Unfortunately, Europe is starting to talk again about the necessity of engaging Lukashenka, different options of such engagement appear – constructive, limited, selective. Only one thing is hidden beneath it – the legitimization of the dictatorship’s existence. We must speak today of disengagement, not engagement, of the dictatorship from international communications”, - Andrei Sannikov told the charter97.org web-site.
The leader of the European Belarus spoke of political prisoners at the forum, that more and more alarming news on their situation had been coming recently.
“I emphasized that the USA’s position has been steadily principled, but today the United States is taking a passive role. A close cooperation of the USA and Europe is needed for democracy and freedom support, as well as the development of joint approaches and actions towards the dictatorship. Such approaches deemed arising at the beginning of 2011, but unfortunately started getting forgotten today. In particular, such approaches embodied in the statement of three US senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry, which was issued literally on the next day after the brutal crackdown on the peaceful protest manifestation and mass arrests in Minsk on 19 December 2010”, - Sannikov stated.
Already on the first day of the forum the politician managed to discuss the situation in Belarus with the US vice-president Joe Biden and senator John McCain.
“The vice-president took with great attention what I told him about the current situation, about the monstrous pressure on political prisoners. When I asked him what message to send to the people of Belarus, he said “The US supports freedom fighters in Belarus and take a principle position in regards to Lukashenka’s regime. There have been noted no progress in Belarus in terms of democracy and human rights, on the contrary the situation has only worsened. That is why the US’ position remains unchanged”.
The senator McCain supported my anxiety over the development of events in Belarus. Both politicians noted that they would follow the events attentively and react accordingly.
There was a good conversation with a former senator, an influential American politician Joseph Lieberman, who also asked to send the words of support and solidarity to all those, who fights for democracy in Belarus. We discussed the situation in detail with the president of Freedom House David Kramer, with the heads of other human rights organizations, with the ambassadors of the Baltic states to the USA, civic activists, lawyers etc.”, - Sannikov told.
It is worth noting that one of the main ideas of the conference was the necessity for the USA to come back to Europe.
“The Republican as well as the Democrats said that America somewhat distanced from the European affairs and did not that actively participate in the processes happening there, particularly in regards to freedom and democracy. This opinion was shared by the representatives of official bodies and public associations of Europe, who were present at the forum”, - the leader of the European Belarus said.