'Free Cities' pact stands behind Belarusians - Warsaw mayor

Mateusz Marek/PAP

Bratislava, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw have jointly adopted a position condemning the breach of law and civil liberties in Belarus and the 'Free Cities' pact stands behind Belarusians, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski tweeted on Wednesday.

Trzaskowski's tweet also said the four cities support Belarusians' fight for democracy and sovereignty. In addition to Trzaskowski, the position was signed by the mayors of Bratislava (Matus Valo), Budapest (Gergely Karacsony) and Prague (Zdenek Hrib).

"(...) The future of Belarus should be in the hands of Belarusians, and not of Europe's last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko and his aides," the position states. "We insist that the European Union revise its approach to Belarus and undertake steps against those responsible for the brutal repression. Our European society should strongly respond to the fight for democracy in Belarus. With pride we have placed the Belarusian flag on our city halls in a gesture of solidarity with ordinary citizens of every age, who have the courage to speak the truth against the authorities and take part in marches for freedom."

The 'Free Cities' pact groups the mayors of the capital cities of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland and was founded in December last year. Its aim is the "defence of democratic values" and joint efforts to gain European grants directly for their local authorities.

Protests have been ongoing in Minsk and other Belarusian cities since the contested August 9 presidential election, the winner of which was declared to be incumbent strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

On August 19, the European Council unanimously condemned the course of the elections in Belarus. As Polish Prime Minister related after the sitting, the Council believes the elections cannot be considered to have been run freely and democratically and should be conducted afresh.