Representatives of 40 organizations from 27 countries gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania to share success stories and align on key initiatives supporting democratic transformation in Belarus. I was honored to represent Canada at this forum. The conference began with opening statements by Sviatlana Tskihanouskaya, Ivonka Survila (via zoom), Pavel Latushka and Volha Kavalkova. After the Q&A session with Ms. Tsikhanouskaya, Ms. Kavalkova and Mr. Latushka, Franak Viachorka delivered an in-depth analysis of the factors that could lead to the power transfer in Belarus, as well as potential transfer scenarios and timelines (available online on OST social media channels).
During the afternoon session on September 24, I delivered a presentation on the Belarusian Canadian Alliance (BCA) activities and key achievements while acknowledging the strengths of the core team members. Presentations from other diasporas and activist groups included the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, People’s Embassies, the Association of Belarusian Business Abroad, Razam (Germany), the Center of Belarusian Solidarity (Poland), as well as representatives of Belarusian diaspora centers in the United States, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and other European countries.
The second day of the conference was dedicated to panel discussions on the topics of digital identity, keeping Belarus on the agenda of the international media, economical pressure and sanctions. A very emotional discussion unfolded during the panel on political prisoners and helping the victims of repressions, as the majority of attendees are directly involved in fundraising and media campaigns to support the prominent leaders and citizen activists who were arrested and sentenced for their political views. The panel discussions concluded with a session on efficient communication and coordination of efforts between diasporas and the offices of democratic leaders, where I participated as a panelist.
The conference was a great success. Personal connections and the opportunity to network with the leaders of the democratic movement, diaspora leaders, and prominent bloggers were incredibly important to maintain productive cooperation between the Canadian diaspora and its Europeran/U.S. counterparts. I am a big believer that any problem can be resolved through open communication and integration of diverse ideas, and the conference was an important first step in what hopefully will become a productive dialogue between Belarusian diasporas and the united democratic forces.
Alena Liavonchanka, chair of BCA
On the photo, from left to right
- Valiantsina Tryhubovich, Archivist for Rada BNR
- Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, elected leader of Belarus
- Palina Prysmakova,Associate Professor, Florida Atlantic University
- Alena Liavonchanka, Chair of Belarusian Canadian Alliance