The Committee on Foreign Affairs, on 12 January 2011, in association with the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) and the Delegations for Relations with Belarus and to the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly, held today a substantial political discussion on the situation in Belarus following the brutal repression of the peaceful demonstrations of last 19 December and exchanged views on the way forward for the EU policy towards Belarus.[:]
Despite positive steps during the electoral campaign, the election of 19 December fell short of meeting international standards of free, fair and transparent elections. Moreover, the election night was overshadowed by disproportionate violence, massive detentions and beatings of hundreds of Belarusian activists, journalists and civil society representatives.
Members expressed deep concern about the continued detention of journalists, opposition candidates and civil society representatives and urged their immediate release and full observance of human rights and due process. They also strongly regretted the decision to close the OSCE Office in Minsk, and called on them to reconsider their decision.
Members clearly stated that the events that followed the 19 December elections should prompt a rethinking of EU relations with Belarusian authorities. They expressed support for the EU taking the following actions:
- enacting a travel-ban for the Belarusian officials involved in the violent crackdown of 19 December 2010. The lifting of the visa-ban and financial asset-freeze should be conditional on the release of all those detained in relation with the events;
- amplifying financial support to Belarusian civil society, independent media and NGOs in the efforts to advance democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, also in cooperation with the UN and the OSCE;
- increasing financial aid and scholarships for the Belarusian students, continue the support to the European Humanities University in exile in Vilnius, and while lowering visa fees for the Belarusian citizens, abolishing them for certain groups of people such as students, scientists and artists;
- reconsidering the position to be taken as to the inter-parliamentary relations with Belarus, including in the context of the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly.
The European Parliament will be deciding about sending an EP fact-finding mission to Belarus and about holding an urgent debate and resolution on Belarus in Strasbourg next week. The recommendations of the Parliament will be adopted in time for the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 31 January in Brussels.
President of the European Parliament
Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)
Chair of the Subcommittee on human rights (DROI)
Chair of the Delegation for relations with Belarus
Chair of the Delegation to the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly