The United States will look for other ways to influence the Belarusian authorities, in addition to sanctions. U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher said this in an interview with Belsat TV channel.
“The sanctions, which affected nine state-owned enterprises, were renewed because the Lukashenko government is holding political prisoners. These sanctions were paused, but they were not cancelled – in 2015 they were only frozen, because then political prisoners were released. But these sanctions are strongly linked to the situation with political prisoners.
Under the current conditions, the State Department gave appropriate recommendations to the Ministry of Finance regarding sanctions, given that there are more than 350 political prisoners in Belarus today. It was a powerful signal from us that the situation does not allow sanctions to remain frozen. Now we’ll see if the sanctions are effective,” explained Fisher said.
Julie Fisher also spoke on other topics regarding Belarusian-American relations.
About the “assassination attempt” on Lukashenko by the U.S. special services
“Many smart and rational people can laugh at this, find inconsistencies, or see the lack of certain details in the story. But what really worries me: there is a real political crisis in Belarus today, but instead of taking measures, Lukashenko decided to focus on looking for the guilty in other countries, on shifting the blame to the so-called foreign intervention, and not on the real problems with which Belarusians are not facing the steps that need to be taken to overcome this crisis.”
When asked why Lukashenko accuses the Americans of “assassination”, the diplomat suggested journalists asking him directly.
“I must say that he blames not only the Americans but others as well. Maybe it depends on the day or his mood. But, again, he chooses to look for some external cause instead of looking at his own actions and the actions of his government.”
About Vladimir Makei’s words
Julie Fisher commented on the recent words of Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, who said that if Fisher is going to come to Belarus and make statements about the illegitimacy of the regime, then it makes no sense for her to come to the country.
“For us, American diplomats, it would be unacceptable to agree to any restrictions on our activities. Every day our diplomats have a variety of tasks all over the world: for example, communicating with the media, monitoring the functioning of the authorities in the place where they serve, U.S. ambassadors also closely monitor trials, the situation with human rights. It is very important for me to understand whether I will be able to fulfil my diplomatic functions 100 per cent, because the U.S. does not accept restrictions on the activities of its ambassadors.”
Message to Lukashenko
The diplomat conveyed a “message” to Alexander Lukashenko and the special services of Belarus.
“I believe it is still not too late to make the decisions that would benefit the people of Belarus. I think now it is even possible for the U.S. to help in this situation. We know that the sovereignty of Belarus is very important. There are decisions that Lukashenko will make, and there are decisions that will be made by his entourage and special services. I am looking forward to the day when Belarus will be a modern European nation, and they can do something already today to prepare the ground for this,” she said.