As Russia persists in its imperial war against Ukraine and its hybrid aggression against democracies worldwide, and as the Lukashenka regime continues its oppression of the Belarusian people and its support for Russia's military aggression, the unity of our nations and peoples — the freedom-loving Belarusians and Lithuanians — has become more important than ever.
Our bond extends beyond mere geographical proximity and shared history. It is based on a deep understanding of each other's struggles and dreams, and a recognition that our futures are inextricably linked.
The friendship between us goes back centuries. We have many things in common, from similar food and folk traditions to national heroes, like Konstantinas Kalinauskas or Кастусь Каліноўскі. Their legacy lives on in our love for freedom and our unwavering resolve to achieve liberty for both our nations. It is only in freedom that our unique identities can truly flourish.
Our artists, writers, and thinkers have often spoken the same language of resistance and hope which continues to inspire our actions today.
In 1991, when Lithuanians came out to defend their newly restored freedom from Soviet tanks, Belarusians were among the defenders of the Lithuanian Parliament. And Lithuanians have always stood with the people of Belarus at the most critical moments.
After the events of 2020, the state of Lithuania and the entire nation supported Belarusians and saved thousands who were forced to flee from the horrific terror in Belarus not seen since the time of Stalinism.
Lithuania’s unwavering support for democratic Belarus reflects not just neighborly goodwill but a profound commitment to the universal principles of democracy, liberty, and the rule of law.
Belarusians have shown incredible courage, taking to the streets, demanding their rights, and risking everything, including their lives and personal freedom, for a democratic future for their country. It resembles Lithuania's path to independence more than three decades ago. But Lithuania managed to regain and defend its freedom while the Belarusian people still struggle and need support from the democratic world.
As the streets of Belarus have been forcibly cleared of peaceful protesters and Lukashenka’s regime has dragged the country into an illegal and unjustified war against the will of its peace-loving and freedom-seeking people, now, more than ever, they need to be seen, heard, and not forgotten.
More than 60,000 Belarusians have gone through politically motivated detention; even now, 15-20 persons are arrested for political reasons every day, and at least 1,500 political prisoners remain behind bars, many of them tortured by the regime.
The Lukashenka regime not only destroys the independent media and civil society but tries to make them part of the "Russian world", to eradicate even the very identity of Belarusians. It is attempting to eliminate everything that connects Belarus to Europe. To Lithuanians, this forced “Russification” is all too familiar from the painful experience of occupation by the Russian empire.
Lithuanians clearly understand the difference between the dictator Lukashenka and the freedom-loving people of Belarus. This is why thousands of Belarusians forced to flee their country amid mounting repression found a home away from home in Lithuania.
The Lukashenka regime tries to divide us with provocations and false accusations, but we will not allow this to succeed. Lithuania and Lithuanians will continue to stand with Belarusians for their freedom. Just like we stood together in defense of Lithuanian freedom in January 1991. Like Lithuanians and Belarusians joined hands for free Belarus in August 2020 and beyond. And just like Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, and Belarusians in Lithuania stood up, together, in support of Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022 and will continue to support Ukraine until their victory, and ours.
Lithuania’s steadfast support for Belarus’ civil society, and its unwavering stance against the authoritarian regime, are a testimony of our broader commitment to each other’s prosperity and autonomy.
Together, we are not just neighbors defending our homelands; we are partners striving for a future where our nations can thrive in peace, security, and mutual respect.
There can be no doubt that the actions of the Lukashenka regime — its blatant violations of human rights, its suppression of free speech, and its participation in the Russian aggression against Ukraine — represent a persistent threat not just to Belarus but to all of Europe.
The courageous citizens of Belarus who stand against this authoritarianism, often at great personal risk, deserve unwavering international support. In this regard, Lithuania is more than a neighbor; it is a true friend and ally.
Lithuania’s role in supporting Belarusian civil society, offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution, and advocating for Belarus on international platforms, has not only provided immediate relief but has also kept the hope of a free Belarus alive. However, words of support, though powerful, are not enough. We must back our words with action.
The international community, particularly the European Union, must continue to take concrete actions against the regime in Minsk. Sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and support for civil society are crucial in this regard.
These actions, combined with the sustained moral and practical support from friends like Lithuania, are essential in tipping the balance in favor of a democratic future for Belarus. We must continue our efforts to defend democracy from authoritarians globally.
The path to democracy is long and fraught with challenges, but there is no alternative. Together, Lithuania and Belarus stand not just as neighbors, but as partners in the pursuit of a shared vision: a Europe whole, free, and at peace.
Let this moment in history be a reminder that even in the face of adversity, friendship can be a powerful force. The ties between Lithuanians and Belarusians have lasted for centuries and they will outlive any dictator trying to break them.
The democratic Belarus is not a distant dream. It is a goal we must achieve, together.