Writing in the Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash argues that it’s time that Europe actually put a bit of pressure on the dictatorial regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, especially following his latest stolen election. You’d be surprised by how much impact just a little nudge can have.
Belarus is a far-away country of which most west Europeans know little. All the more reason to open our eyes to what is happening there. This is a bad end to a bad year for Europe. The still unresolved crisis of the eurozone is, of course, a much larger threat to the whole Whig narrative of recent European history, seen as a story of progress towards more freedom, prosperity and integration. But if the EU can no longer exert its magnetic powers of attraction over a small impoverished country on its very doorstep, that is a blow too. In recent columns I have lamented India’s failure to influence things for the better in Burma. In Belarus we have our own European Burma.
Immediately, we must do everything in our power to have those political prisoners released, so that they can spend the festive season with their families and a more genial version of Grandfather Frost. Then, early next year, the European Union needs to take a long, cool look at its own face, as it appears in the Belarussian mirror. It may not be a pretty sight.