Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: Increasing restrictions on independent media actors in Belarus must stop
On 22 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius of Lithuania Landsbergis attended the United Nations Security Council high-level Arria-formula meeting on Media Freedom in Belarus. Lithuania's Foreign Minister called upon the Belarusian government to respect freedom of expression, and to end the arbitrary detention of journalists and all other media restrictions.
“We urgently call on the Belarusian authorities to respect freedom of expression, to refrain from using force against journalists and media workers, to end the arbitrary detention of journalists, and to carry out an effective investigation of cases of all violations,” said Lithuania's Foreign Minister.
Landsbergis also drew attention to the role of the representatives of the Russian state media, who had replaced protesting journalists in the Belarusian state media. They are disseminating disinformation about the situation in Belarus and neighbouring countries.
The Foreign Minister urged the Belarusian authorities to fully cooperate with the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus and to implement the recommendations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on human rights.
The informal high-level virtual meeting was held on the initiative of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council - Estonia. The Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu chaired the meeting. Lithuania was one of the initiators of the meeting.
The keynote speaker was the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan presented the situation of media in Belarus. Other speakers included the leader of democratic Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a member of the opposition's Coordination Council Presidium and the Head of National Anti-Crisis Management Pavel Latushko, a journalist from The Times (UK) Gareth Browne, journalists from independent Belarusian media outlets, UN ministers and other representatives of the UN member states also took the floor.
The Security Council is responsible for preventing armed conflict and other forms of violence. In 2015, the Security Council adopted a resolution on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, which was drafted by Lithuania. In the resolution, the Security Council affirms "that the work of a free, independent and impartial media constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society".