Democratic forces made their mark in Davos, putting Belarus in the spotlight
At the World Economic Forum, Belarusian democratic forces seized the opportunity to once again draw global attention to the situation in and around Belarus. Their goal was to gather additional support and resources for their agenda.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of Belarusian democratic forces, actively participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos. She not only spoke at a high-level panel on “Defending the European United Front” but also engaged in discussions on freedom of speech and took part in panels on democracy and its future.
During meetings with politicians from Western countries, the discussions covered key topics, including Belarus’s role in European security, ending Belarus’s participation in conflicts, and securing resources for Belarusian media, private businesses, and activists. Tsikhanouskaya also pitched the idea of creating an international fund to support repressed individuals, former political prisoners, and their families.
Tsikhanouskaya used her presence at the forum to build new alliances worldwide. The goal was to gain insights from countries that successfully transitioned from dictatorship to democracy, seek assistance in preparing reforms, and attract new investments to Belarus in the future.
At the Google House in Davos, Switzerland, Tsikhanouskaya met with Annette Kroeber-Riel, the company’s vice president. They discussed various issues related to the requests of Belarusian journalists and civil society, covering aspects such as boosting Belarusian content over Russian content for Belarusians, localizing Google services for Belarus, supporting Belarusian-language content, presenting Google tools, and organizing training for media and civil society. They also discussed the creation of a Belarusian-language Gmail interface.
Towards the end of the previous year, the European Commission had already brought Google’s attention to challenges faced by Belarusian independent media, such as difficulties in promoting materials due to search algorithms favoring state propaganda, the lack of localization of Google News for Belarus, and the absence of support for the Belarusian language.
On the sidelines of the forum, Tsikhanouskaya held talks with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, discussing Belgium’s presidency of the European Union. This included emphasizing the need to focus on the situation in Belarus, increase pressure on the Lukashenka regime, provide more assistance to Belarusian civil society, and support Belarus’s European aspirations.
Furthermore, the leader of Belarusian democratic forces met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, to discuss potential interaction and cooperation. Another meeting took place with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, Gabriela Sommerfeld, where they discussed Ecuador’s support for closer cooperation between democratic Belarus and Latin American countries. Tsikhanouskaya also had a meeting with Hungarian President Katalin Nowak, expressing the hope that Budapest would take a firm and decisive stance on human rights violations in Belarus and align with the EU policy towards Minsk.
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