Q: The crackdown against civil society in Belarus is escalating and Minister Le Drian reiterated yesterday that France did not recognize Lukashenko’s legitimacy. At the same time, the ambassador in Minsk, Nicolas de Lacoste, is meeting with representatives of this regime, including oligarchs close to Lukashenko, to discuss economic relations. How do you explain this inconsistency between France’s position and the ambassador’s actual actions on the ground?
A: France’s position, like that of the Europeans, has always been unequivocal: We do not recognize Aleksandr Lukashenko’s legitimacy, we sanction the perpetrators of serious violations of the rule of law and we support the Belarusian people and civil society. We are calling for the establishment of an inclusive national dialogue aimed at resolving the crisis, which means maintaining channels of communication with all stakeholders within civil society as well as with certain official representatives with respect to issues of interest to Belarusian society, as agreed upon by the 27 EU member states. This is the message that our ambassador there is conveying, together with our European colleagues.