Finnish Foreign Minister: Belarus Must Free Opposition Candidates

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb met with his Belarusian counterpart Sergei Martynov in the evening on Tuesday when Martynov arrived in Finland with a short surprise visit. Stubb put forward requirements that Belarus must fulfil if it wants to avoid EU sanctions.

Stubb demanded that opposition candidates be released from prison immediately and given a fair trial. In addition, Stubb proposed that an international investigation should be launched into the Belarus election and the subsequent violent demonstrations.

"This is the only exit for Belarus out of this situation," Stubb said.

Martynov visited Finland before his consultation with the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. According to Stubb, Martynov wanted to clarify the official Belarusian position on how the election and the ensuing violent riots had occurred. The explanation of the Belarusian Foreign Minister was long and thorough, Stubb says.

In the violent demonstrations following the presidential election in Belarus in December, several opposition candidates and hundreds of activists were arrested. Incumbent president Alexandr Lukashenka was elected for his fourth term in office. Opposition and international monitors have criticised the election as fraudulent.


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