SHARE
COPY LINK
SWEDISH TEDDY BEAR DROP

HUMAN RIGHTS

Lithuania warns Belarus and summons envoy

Lithuania summoned the Belarus ambassador Tuesday in protest after Minsk expelled Swedish diplomats in the "teddy bear" row, warning the move could further worsen relations with the European Union.

Lithuania warns Belarus and summons envoy

The row erupted after Swedish activists illegally flew a plane into Belarus from Lithuania last month, dropping hundreds of teddy bears attached to little parachutes bearing signs calling for freedom of speech and human rights.

Belarus expelled Swedish diplomats last week and threatened consequences

for Lithuania.

But Lithuania warned Tuesday that Minsk’s move would “have an impact on

relations between the EU and Belarus”.

Regarding “the recent actions in Belarus, the EU intends to consider restraining political contacts with Belarus,” Lithuania’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The European Union on Friday said it would send a “very clear message” to

Minsk but shied away from a mooted mass diplomatic withdrawal.

Lithuania, which joined NATO and the EU in 2004, said it was considering

Belarus’ request to investigate an alleged violations of the state border.

Lithuania’s move comes soon after the Swedish PR team responsible for the teddy bear drop, Studio Total, ignored a KGB summons from Lukashenko.

In an open letter to the Belarusian published on Tuesday, the Swedes mocked his authority and invited him to come to Sweden instead, demanding that all political prisoners be released.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

BELARUS

“Go all the way – doubt kills everything”

SI alum Katsiaryna Syrayezhkina tells SI News about a recent event she organized in Minsk about sustainable living, and advises current students and alumni on how to make a difference.

On September 16th, the seminar “Sustainable lifestyle: small actions, big difference” took place in Minsk, Belarus, in cooperation with the Association of European Business and ODB-Brussels (Belgium).

SI alum Katsiaryna Syrayezhkina was behind the initiative, where key topics included sustainable lifestyle, ecological foot prints, eco-friendly initiatives, sustainable consumption, and energy efficient housing

“I was inspired by the Smart Living Exchange organized by the Swedish Institute and its partner organizations,” Katsiaryna tells SI News.

“As an SI alumna, I decided to replicate this experience in my country and organize a seminar covering sustainable transport, consumption and housing practices in Sweden and Belarus.”

During the seminar, experts and participants discussed the barriers, triggers, and motivators of moving towards healthier choices and a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials.

The Swedish and Belarusian experts spoke about “circular” economy and the economy of “sharing”, links between “couch-surfing”, cycling infrastructure and sustainable development, EU sustainable practices, and partnerships between businesses and NGOs.

The event participants thus were given the opportunity to compare both the Belarusian and European experience of such matters.

Katsiaryna says the event was a success, but that one of the main challenges was simply getting other alumni involved and interested.

“It's always difficult to get local SI alumni interested,” she says, “so I always try to think about some extra benefits for attendees.”

Benefits this time included an excursion to BelVTI recycling plant  on the same day, and participants also had the opportunity to taste a vegetarian buffet organized by the VegaMara project team.

Another key challenge was getting Swedish experts to come speak at the event.

“Belarus doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list of countries to visit,” she remarks.

But in the end the work paid off, and Katsiaryna noted that there are many similarities between the two countries – and that they should work together more.

“I think we have much in common with Swedes: mentality, history .. even weather!” she says.

Having studied in many countries – including France, Poland, Belgium, and Sweden – Katsiaryna says that it’s hard to know what exactly has made her the person she is today, but that her time abroad has definitely affected her in many ways.

“The most important thing is that I learned to take the opportunity to fail,” she confides. “We take things way too seriously in post-Soviet countries, while the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself in everything you do.”

For those who are currently studying with the SI programme in Sweden, Katsiaryna recommends being open and totally embracing the experience.

“I would advise current students to immerse themselves in a new culture, rather than trying to recreate a little 'home' and hide inside from everybody,” she says.

 As for the other SI alumni – if you have something to share, just do it.

“Don’t have second thoughts, just give it a try and go all the way,” she says. “Otherwise you start hesitating and as we all know, doubt kills everything.”