Zingeris: EU's openness is used in Belarusian regimes' schemes
Chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Lithuanian Seimas Emanuelis Zingeris explains what Lithuania has learnt with the help of "Peftsiyeu’s case" and why the EU is not like a turtle.
Euroradio: How did you react to the news that Vilnius City Court had satisfied the appeal of “blacklisted” Belarusian businessman Uladzimir Peftsiyeu and decided to unfreeze his accounts in Lithuania?
Emanuelis Zingeris: Lithuania is a democratic country and any inquiry of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be appealed in court. As far as I know, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will keep lodging appeals to higher instances. It means that the story has not finished here. As a law-abiding citizen, I will agree to any court’s decision. But I know that the decision has been made by only one of the courts. The other instances will consider the issue in a few weeks. This person’s accounts will remain frozen until then.
Euroradio: As far as we know, Pefstiyeu has lodged four complaints about the actions of the Council of the EU and demanded to be removed from “the black list”. Can the situation in Vilnius Court help reach this goal?
Emanuelis Zingeris: The European Union will agree with any final decision concerning any citizen because every court’s decision is final for us. It is because the judicial authorities are independent. At the same time, I cannot but mention that this is a rather interesting experiment when citizens from undemocratic states serving their regimes start using the openness of our judicial system. The European Union should find a political way out and decide what should be done when the EU’s democratic opportunities and openness are being used in the schemes of regimes hostile to both human rights observation and to the very essence of the European Union.
Byalyatski’s incident that occurred a year ago is an example of using the agreements with Poland and Lithuania to receive information about Mr. Byalyatski and to use it for political purposes. The agreements provide for exchange of information about crimes. We have to consider this political issue connected with using our open judicial system by undemocratic regimes for the purpose of reaching their goals.
This phenomenon means using our open judicial system by well-prepared lawyers representing outer regimes. They “take aim” at our lawyers and show them agreements to make them work for their regime in European countries. We can see it all and we understand these tricks. We will look into the way the EU’s judicial system should function when it encounters displays of actions prepared beyond our system. First of all, it concerns the regimes based on the authorities’ monopoly and on hostile attitude to us and to the observation of human rights in their country.
Euroradio: The decision of Vilnius Court and the appointment of Uladzimir Makei to the position of the Belarusian Foreign Minister clashed. Experts have claimed that the new Minister will be able to establish good relations with Lithuania. Do you see any connection between the events in Vilnius and Minsk?
Emanuelis Zingeris: We are waiting for clear and accurate signals from the Belarusian regime, we need to make sure that it is trying to normalize the human rights situation – you still have 14 political prisoners. Furthermore, you still have not signed the agreement on the border control simplification in the 50km border zone presented to your government by the Lithuanian Parliament a year ago. It can help Hrodna inhabitants and people living on the other border territories visit Lithuania without visas. However, nothing has been done by the Belarusian authorities in this direction.
We do not understand how your electors are going to take part in the election. I can recall the previous election and the events that took place on December 19. We are tired of listening to one and the same song before every election: at first you promise democratic elections and then we see the leader’s iron fist. Life is short, we cannot live for hundreds of years like turtles do but we keep hearing the same song every few years.
It would be great if Mr. Lukashenka did not think that the European Union was a group of idiots that could be deceived every few years. That is why we are waiting for signals. But we do not need any Baroque signals about good intentions; we are waiting for certain actions aimed at the democratization of Belarus, making the society open and abolishing the death penalty. We are waiting for the freedom of the press, speech and other things.
There is one more request. We do not need circus performances organized after every single engine airplane’s flight anymore. Just compare the forces available on the Belarusian part of the border to those in Lithuania. The Belarusian army is 10 times bigger than ours. Our border is actually open! This “Berlin Wall” is built on your side, not on ours. So, let’s stop threatening one another with different boycotts. We suggest that the imitation of the Soviet Union on our border should stop.
Demonstrate Belarus’ actions on the way to making your country open! Demonstrate changes concerning human rights. If somebody thinks that the replacement of the Foreign Minister is a sign of liberalization, your country should demonstrate it by actions, not by statements about intentions.