Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia urge de-escalation in Belarus

The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have called on the Belarusian authorities to de-escalate tensions in the country, Polish President Andrzej Duda's top aide, Krzysztof Szczerski, said on Thursday.

"Today, a joint appeal (...) was published, which on the one hand calls on the authorities of the Belarusian state to de-escalate tensions and stop using force against citizens, secondly to immediately release detained protesters, and thirdly to initiate an immediate dialogue with the Belarusian people in the form of a round table," the head of the Polish president's office told PAP.

According to Szczerski, the four leaders jointly declared in the appeal their readiness to mediate. "The presidents express their readiness to be active, if there is a will on both sides, so that our states, as Belarus's close regional neighbours, could support the implementation of this three-point plan," the presidential minister said.

In the appeal, PAP has had access to, the presidents of the four countries wrote that they would like "Belarus to be a stable, democratic, independent and wealthy country."

They also called for "de-escalation of tensions and immediate cessation of the use of force against citizens," "no violence, and respect for fundamental freedoms and human and civil rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and the safety of journalists."

The four presidents also urged the Belarusian authorities to "immediately release the detained participants of political protests and to stop any further persecution," as well as to "immediately initiate dialogue with the Belarusian people, listen to the voice of citizens and guarantee their freedom of expression."

"Based on the experience of our societies and our own, we call for the organisation of a national reconciliation round table, involving government officials and civil society. This would be an appropriate step towards starting a genuine national dialogue. We are convinced that dialogue is always the best way towards social development, discussions on reforms and the future of Belarus," the appeal read.

The four leaders wrote that "if the Belarusian authorities meet these requirements, the door to cooperation with the international community should remain open. Isolation is not a path to the prosperity and development of any nation."

They declared their readiness to offer "mediation commitment" in order to achieve a peaceful solution in Belarus and "to strengthen the independence and sovereignty" of the country.