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European Union Commissioners expect from Belarusian authorities “irreversible steps” in democratization

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On December 16 debates on the situation in Belarus were held in the European parliament.

Closing the debate, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Karel De Gucht stated that the European Union’s policy towards Belarus should be based upon pragmatism and flexibility, BelaPAN writes.

He explained that Brussels should be ready for cooperation with Minsk, support of political and economic development of the country. If Minsk makes “substantial, irreversible steps” in the area of democratization, human rights and rule of law, the EU would include the country in the European Neighbourhood Policy and would expand cooperation.

The European Commissioner noted that absence of an agreement on partnership and cooperation between the EU and Belarus hinders extending of bilateral cooperation. As said by him, a possibility of signing such a document can also motivate the Belarusian authorities for reforms.

Karel De Gucht called upon the Belarusian authorities to impose a moratorium on death penalty immediately.

The European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated that a pragmatic approach would allow seeing “positive development of the situation in Belarus”. She underlined tat Belarus is an important and complex partner for the EU”.

As said by Ferrero-Waldner, the EU had shown good will for development of relations by high-level visits, an opened dialogue on human rights, widening of cooperation in the mutually relevant spheres.

The European Commissioner welcomed the fact that the Council of the European Union had allowed the EU Commission to start preparation of an agreement for facilitation of visa regime with Belarus, and ordered to make an intermediate plan of cooperation with Belarus in the framework of the European Neighbourhood policy. As said by Ferrero-Waldner, it is to be designed together with authorities and civil society of Belarus and would help to start a dialogue, including the dialogue on political issues among other things. The final decision on this plan is to be adopted by the Council of the European Union.

At the same time the European Commissioner underlined that the Belarusian austerities haven’t made “irreversible steps”, hadn’t demonstrated “in deed, not in words” that they are ready to meet the EU recommendations. “Respect to human rights and freedoms I Belarus should become a norm,” the European Commissioner stated.

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