WARSAW, Poland — The prime ministers of four central European countries said Friday that new elections should be held in Belarus to allow the country's voters to decide the course of its future.
“We all agree that Belarus should hold free elections so that the Belarusian nation can on its own and in a sovereign way determine their fate and future,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said after he hosted fellow Visegrad Group leaders at a meeting in Poland's eastern city of Lublin.
Gearing up for a European Union summit later this month, Morawiecki and the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary also called for all political prisoners to be freed in Belarus and proposed a plan of economic co-operation to help the nation move economically forward.
Belarus has seen a month of street protests against the results of the country's Aug. 9 presidential election, which is widely believed to have been rigged. Official results gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term with 80% of the vote, but protesters dispute the count and are demanding he step down after 26 years in office.
The four leaders also said that a new strategy should be discussed among all 27 EU members at the Sept. 24-25 summit in Brussels of how to best fight the spread of the coronavirus without more economic harm.
“We are waiting for initiatives and decisions by the European Commission, and we must act to minimize the effects of the pandemic, but we cannot afford another lockdown,” Slovakian Prime Minister Igor Matovic said.
Poland currently holds the rotating presidency of the so-called Visegrad 4, central Europe's political and economic co-operation group.
Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press