Offbeat In Vilnius, Emmanuel Macron looks towards Russia and asks for a transition in Belarus

03:25  29 september  2020
03:25  29 september  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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French President Emmanuel Macron said he would support sanctions against the regime in Belarus , adopting a harsher stance toward the country where Russia has “We have a common goal and hope we can take up sanctions in the nearest future,” Macron said in a joint press conference in Vilnius

Le président français, Emmanuel Macron, lors de la conférence de presse au Palais présidentiel de Vilnius, en Lituanie le 28 septembre 2020. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP French President Emmanuel Macron during the press conference at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania on September 28, 2020.

Emmanuel Macron arrived in Vilnius for a two-day visit to the Baltic region. As of Monday, September 28, Emmanuel Macron met his Lithuanian counterpart, Gitanas Nauseda. But discussions between the two heads of state quickly turned to Russia and Belarus. Unmissable questions from Vilnius.

From our correspondent in Vilnius, Marielle Vitureau

It is a historic event for the Lithuanians, because the last visit of a French president dates back to 2001. The Head of State praised the progress made since the return of the Lithuania gained independence 30 years ago. But in Vilnius, Russia is all set. 200 kilometers to the west is the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. In Vilnius, in the white room of the presidential palace, under the gilding, Emmanuel Macron mainly sought to explain the purpose of his dialogue with Russia , initiated a year ago.

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If Emmanuel Macron believes heads of state must resign over street protests, he should have left office himself when Yellow Vest demonstrators took to the streets in France, Belarusian leader Belarus ’s Lukashenko tells Macron after French leader calls for his resignation. 27 Sep, 2020 19:40.

Tikhanovskaya told AFP that French President Emmanuel Macron could be "one of the mediators" and could involve his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a dialogue Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus in the days after the presidential election after claiming victory and accusing Lukashenko of rigging the vote.

“If we want to build lasting peace on the European continent, we have to work with Russia, because we share a history and a geography. And we share this story sometimes for the worse. We cannot pretend that Europe is an island far from Russia. And so this neighborhood calls for strategic work, ”said Emmanuel Macron.

Upcoming meeting with Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa

All, as the French president underlined, without complacency or naivety and by informing his partners in full transparency. France, Lithuania and Latvia have all proposed a plan to the European Union to protect the elections from cyber attacks and disinformation.

Belarus has been the other big topic of discussions between the two presidents. Emmanuel Macron called on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down. Called on by Belarusian opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to play a mediator role, Emmanuel Macron will meet her in a private interview. He will be the first high-ranking Western leader to meet the leader of the Belarusian opposition, who had to go into exile in Vilnius.

►Also read: Belarus: for Emmanuel Macron, "it is clear that Lukashenko must leave"

Diplomatic path strewn with pitfalls for the leader of the Belarusian opposition .
© Provided by Le Point New to politics a few months ago, the leader of the Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa joined the first European diplomatic league at the risk of undermining its own cause, analysts say. After meeting French President Emmanuel Macron this week, the opponent, who claims victory in the presidential election in Belarus in August, is expected to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel shortly.

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