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World News

Poland wants EU to pledge at least one billion euros to stabilise Belarus

FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a news conference at a summit of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries in Warsaw, Poland July 3, 2020. Dawid Zuchowicz/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS/File Photo

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Poland wants the European Union to offer Belarus financial assistance of at least 1 billion euros (909.52 million pounds) as part of a “Marshal plan” to rebuild the country, Prime Minster Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday.

Belarus has been gripped in mass protests since Aug. 9 election, when President Alexander Lukashenko said he won in a landslide.

Lukashenko refused calls for new election, cracked down hard on protesters and on Monday received a lifeline loan of $1.5 billion from Russia in a gesture of support.

Morawiecki said the financial assistance forms part of the support package for Belarus which he will propose at the next EU summit on Sept. 24-25.

“The fund should indeed be significant. ... It should be at least 1 billion euros,” Morawiecki said in Vilnius after meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) could also contribute the fund, meant to prop up Belarus currency, stabilize its economy and allow the country to borrow on its own, Morawiecki said.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas and Marcin Goclowski; editing by Jason Neely and Tomasz Janowski

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