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Prime Minister: dictators in the blind-spots of our attention would become stronger and more aggressive

LITHUANIA, June 21 - ‘Let us not lose neither hope nor patience in supporting the people of Ukraine and Belarus in their struggle for freedom’, said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė while addressing the participants of the 4th Kalinowski Forum, stressing the need for the democratic West not only to declare but also to defend their values.  

The Head of Government said that the promised support for those oppressed and occupied must not be forgotten, even in the face of new challenges.  

‘And yet time and again the headlines would shift to another tragedy or victory, another hero or victim of the day, of the month, of the year. And so would our attention. We would reiterate our commitment but rarely devote sufficient time and efforts to the cause of yesterday, of last month, of last year. Our lessons would remain unlearned. And in the blind-spot of our distracted attention, dictators would continue to thrive. They would grow stronger and become ever more aggressive–both towards their own people and internationally’, said Prime Minister Šimonytė.  

‘On the 24th of February, as Russia launched a full-scale military offensive on Ukraine, we finally started calling a war a war, an aggressor an aggressor, and the atrocities in Bucha, Borodianka, Irpin, Mariupol, Chernihiv crimes against humanity and a genocide’, said Prime Minister. ‘For a short while we had the clarity of mind. We were united, focused, and determined.  

Not even a hundred days passed, and new headlines emerged suggesting we should seek ways of ’saving Putin’s face’; Ukraine should trade its territories in exchange for peace; the West should consider bargaining with Lukashenka, perhaps even lifting sanctions, in exchange for Ukrainian grain for Africa and Belarusian potash for Latin America. As if the Belarusian dictator was not an accomplice in the Russia’s war against Ukraine and a perpetrator of repressions in his own country’, Prime Minister pointed out.  

The easing of sanctions would only lead to further–and stronger–repressions in Belarus, which is why it is necessary to remain vigilant and to be able to learn from mistakes.  

‘For what are we good for if we can only declare–but not defend–what we stand for: democracy, freedom, dignity. The basic rights, and lives of those who seek our support. Of those, to whom we promised our support. Who count on us to be heard and seen. Not forgotten–and not traded in as a bargaining chip.  

So today, while we are still focused on helping Ukraine win this war against the Russian tyranny, let’s also do everything we can to keep up with our promises to support the free people of Belarus. They need this support more than ever.’ noted the Head of the Government of Lithuania.  

The 4th Kalinowski Forum that took place on June 21 was held in Brussels at the European Parliament.  

The full Prime Minister’s address in English and Lithuanian