The human rights situation in Belarus and Iceland´s support to the cause of reform movements in the country were the main topics of discussion at a meeting between Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation of Iceland, and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, opposition leader from Belarus on Friday.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya visited Iceland at the invitation of Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation of Iceland. At their meeting at the Foreign Ministry on Friday, they discussed the human rights situation in Belarus and how the authorities there have oppressed peaceful protesters pushing for democratic reforms.
"Ever since the flawed presidential election took place in Belarus last summer, the Icelandic government has criticized the actions of Alexander Lukashenko's regime and expressed grave concern about the state of human rights and democracy in the country. We have supported the cause of the democratic forces and therefore I invited Tsikhanouskaya to Iceland to learn about her views on the situation in Belarus and her aspirations for the country, "says Guðlaugur Thór Thórdarson.
Iceland has issued numerous statements in support of human rights and democracy in Belarus, including jointly with the Nordic and Baltic countries, e.g. at the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council and the OSCE. Iceland also supports civil society organizations in Belarus and participates in Western sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.
"I assured Tsikhanouskaya that she could rely on Iceland's support in her fight for civil rights that we in Iceland take for granted but are disregarded in her home country. At the same time, we will continue to urge the government of Belarus to respect human rights, release political prisoners from prison, stop the persecution of peaceful protesters and call free and fair elections in accordance with the will of the people, "says Foreign Minister Thórdarson.
Following her meeting with Foreign Minister Thórdarson, Tsikhanouskaya visited Althingi, the parliament of Iceland, where she met, among others, the Speaker of the Parliament as well as members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and international committees. She also met with the Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and gave a speech at an open event organized by Institute of International Affairs at Veröld – the House of Vigdís at the University of Iceland. Foreign Minister Thórdarson gave opening remarks and panel discussion followed Tsikhanouskaya’s talk. After the event, Tsikhanouskaya had a brief encounter with Gudni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland, and his wife, Eliza Reid.