Six months have passed since the sham presidential election in Belarus. In its aftermath, we have witnessed the political awakening of the Belarusian people – your awakening. You are persisting in your peaceful quest for freedom and democracy – despite the violence of Lukashenko’s henchmen, despite the bitter cold in the squares, despite the risk of being imprisoned. The genie of democracy is out of the bottle – and there is no way to put it back. Many heroes have emerged over the last few months in Belarus: artists, medical workers, students, elderly people – and the women of Belarus. And you in particular, dear Svetlana. With your courage, you have inspired so many in Belarus and beyond. Let me assure you: Germany and the European Union stand with you. We have imposed sanctions against Lukashenko and his regime. And we have set up an “Action Plan Civil Society Belarus” with up to 21 million euro:
We will offer scholarships to students who were banned from their schools and universities for participating in demonstrations. We will support independent media. We will give psychological care to victims of torture and allow persecuted Belarusians to come to Germany. And we are setting up a mechanism to collect evidence against those who violate human rights. The day will come when they will be held accountable. The day will come when Belarusians can enjoy democracy, freedom and the rule of law. We will owe that day to your energy, your courage and your resolve.