In an interview with a French weekly Journal du Dimanche, French President Emmanuel Macron said Alexander Lukashenko has to step down.
“What is happening in Belarus is a power crisis, an authoritarian power that cannot accept the logic of democracy and which is hanging on by force. It is clear that Lukashenko has to leave,” Macron said.
The French leader also noted that he had spoken to Vladimir Putin on 14 September before his meeting with Lukashenko in Sochi.
“I told him that Russia has a role to play, and this role can be positive if he pushes Lukashenko to respect the legitimacy of the ballot box and free political prisoners,” the French president added.
Besides, Macron expressed his admiration for the Belarusian demonstrators who take part in protest rallies every weekend.
“They know the risks they are taking by demonstrating every weekend, and yet, they are pushing forward with the movement to make democracy come alive in this country that has been deprived of it for so long,” he said.
“Women in particular, who march every Saturday, command our respect,” Macron stressed. On Tuesday, Macron is expected to hold talks with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is currently in exile in Lithuania.
Responding to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement on the situation in Belarus, Lukashenko said: “As an experienced politician – to immature – I would like to advise Mr. Macron to stop looking around and focus on the internal affairs of France. At least to start solving the problems which are many in the country.”
In addition, he advised the French president to resign in response to protests of the ‘yellow vests’. “Years go by, ‘vests’ are still on the streets, Mr. Macron still holds his post, too, and France has turned into a country where mass protests have become a usual thing.”
In addition, according to Lukashenko, Macron pays too much attention to one of the ex-candidates for the presidency of Belarus. “Given the fact that this ex-candidate is a lady, the French leader risks facing personal problems in France as well – inside his family,” he said.
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Earlier, the EU, as well as the number of other countries, refused to recognise Lukashenko the country’s legitimate president. The EU is also considering personal sanctions against Lukashenko and other high-profile officials seen as responsible for the violent crackdown.