The Lukashenka regime will not receive financial assistance from the West without beginning a robust dialogue with his political opponents in the country, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a meeting with Belarusian pro-democratic activists in Warsaw on Tuesday.
"The possibility of financial assistance to the regime is ruled out without radical changes that should be based on a serious political dialogue with the opposition," the press office of the Polish Council of Ministers quoted Mr. Tusk as saying.
Commenting on the meeting with the Belarusian activists, which also involved Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, the premier said that he had reiterated his commitment to assisting the Belarusian opposition in engaging in a dialogue with the authorities. "We also discussed guarantees that Europe could provide to make the dialogue between the opposition and the authorities produce the desired results such as truly free parliamentary elections."
But before any dialogue can begin, the Belarusian authorities should release all political prisoners, Mr. Tusk stressed.
The Belarusian activists also shared a firm opinion that any talks with Mr. Lukashenka should be considered only following the release and rehabilitation of those convicted following last December’s post-election protest in Minsk, according to the press office of the Polish foreign ministry.
The activists called on the European Union to pay heed to them when shaping its policy regarding Belarus.
According to the press office, they thanked Mr. Sikorski for his firm position on Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s policies, and for support of civil society in Belarus.
The Belarusian delegation to the meeting included United Civic Party Chairman Anatol Lyabedzka; Alyaksey Yanukevich, chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front; Syarhey Kalyakin, leader of the “Spravedlivy Mir” (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left; Alyaksandr Milinkevich, leader of the Movement for Freedom; Stanislaw Shushkevich, Belarus’ formal head of state between 1991 and 1994, and Andrey Dzmitryyew, who was the campaign manager of candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyayew in last December’s presidential election in Belarus.