EU - Belarus relations: Our actions must focus on supporting people and civil society in their demand for human rights and democracy
Today MEPs adopted a report on EU relations with Belarus by strongly backing the European Council’s decision not to recognise the results of fraudulent presidential elections and to impose restrictive measures against 40 individuals identified as responsible for repression and intimidation against peaceful demonstrators. Moreover, the report recommends the implementation of these sanctions as soon as possible by enlarging the group of persons to include Alexander Lukashenko and a substantial number of high and middle ranking officials.
The European Parliament unequivocally supports the people of Belarus in their legitimate demands for new free and fair elections and recognises the Coordination Council, initiated by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, as the legitimate representative of the people demanding
democratic change and freedom. MEPs condemn the tactic of the Belarusian regime to disperse the Council by intimidating its members and expelling them, as well as opposition politicians and activists.
The report reiterates that the European Union would be open to the further development of relations with the country both bilaterally and within the Eastern Partnership framework only if Belarus meets all previously agreed conditions related to democracy, the rule of law, free and fair elections, international law and human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The EU must prepare a comprehensive review of its policy towards Belarus, with a particular focus on the EU’s support to civil society and the people of Belarus, taking into account different scenarios of developments in the country, and suspend negotiations on the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities until free and fair presidential elections take place.
Renew Europe MEP, Petras Auštrevičius (Lithuanian Liberal Movement), the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Belarus, said:
“The Belarusian people are fighting for their freedom, for their right to free and fair elections and their right to have a say in the matters determining the future of their country. Their brave and inspiring actions require three simple actions from our side: solidarity, support and sanctions. Together with colleagues, we made sure that this recommendation report would guide the European Union’s policy towards Belarus accordingly. EU support, including financial assistance, should go directly to the Belarusian people. It has to be channelled via trustworthy sources and, in addition to the COVID-19 relief, cover medical treatment of persons who were injured and traumatised as result of the brutal crackdown on protesters. Moreover, it has to enable the documentation of human rights violations, allow civil society organisations to provide relief to the victims, support the independent media and investigative journalists, small and medium businesses and workers who due to their participation in protests risk losing their livelihood."