I would like to thank the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Mrs. Liimets for the kind invitation to speak at this timely meeting.
Greece is proud to co-sponsor, along with likeminded countries, today’s event.
In this regard, we support any initiative aiming at highlighting the necessity to continue paying close attention to developments in Belarus.
After all, we need a broad discussion on how to better handle this critical issue.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Belarus, Greece has maintained a clear and consistent position.
A position based on values and principles.
Together with our partners, we support the obvious right of the people of Belarus to a democratic system of governance.
We also strongly condemn the grave human rights violations and the continuous disrespect for the rule of law by the Lukashenko regime.
Furthermore, following the forced landing of the Ryanair flight to Minsk on May 23, we clearly stated that this was an act not befitting any civilized state.
It was an act of state piracy.
Greece is looking further into this matter.
Including on whether anything more can be done as a response.
We have actively supported all decisions taken by the EU to step up pressure on the regime and to increase support for the people of Belarus.
I had the chance to meet several times with the leader of the Belarusian opposition Mrs. Tsikhanouskaya, including in Athens.
In our discussions, I have reiterated our country’s full support for a democratic Belarus.
However, despite our common efforts, the Lukashenko regime has shown no intention of changing its behavior.
On the contrary, it has adopted practices to exert pressure on certain member states and the EU as a whole.
Practices such as the instrumentalization of refugees and migrants, to force us to change our policy.
We should not let this happen.
It is essential that we continue to implement a policy based on values and principles.
And increase pressure on Lukashenko – including through further actions.
At the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that the instrumentalization of refugees and migrants, is being widely practiced by other states too.
In this vein, the necessity to respond to them in a comprehensive and collective way becomes evident.
Allow me to conclude by congratulating once again the organizers of today’s important event.