28 May 2024, Tuesday, 19:47
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Andrei Sannikov: “Europe shows fast reaction to abductions”


The democrats welcome the European Parliament harsh resolution on human rights in Belarus.

As Russian Kommersant newspaper writes, the draft resolution was initiated by the European People’s Party, whose member is EP President Jerzy Buzek. However, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Karel De Gucht doubted if adoption of this document was necessary. The commissioner reminded the European Parliament that the EU policy towards Belarus should be based on pragmatism and flexibility. According to him, if Minsk makes “substantial, irreversible steps” in areas of democratization, human rights and rule of law, the EU will extend cooperation with Belarus. The European commissioner proposed to sign an agreement on partnership and cooperation between the EU and Belarus that can motivate the Belarusian authorities for democratic reforms.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy, disagree with the position. She emphasized the Belarusian authorities neither had made “irreversible steps” nor demonstrated their readiness to follow the EU recommendations. She said respect for human rights and freedoms should become a norm in Belarus.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing regret over absence of progress in the area of human rights and freedoms after a number of positive steps made by the Belarusian authorities. The document contains calls on Minsk to investigate the cases of abductions of youth leaders and a mysterious death of Belarusian Popular Front activist Valyantsin Dounar. MEPs also called on the Belarusian authorities to free political prisoners, continue cooperation with the OSCE on reforming the electoral legislation and develop a dialogue with the opposition. The European Parliament expects Minsk to reform the Law on Mass Media in line with recommendations by international experts, allow registration of political parties and civil society organizations, and create favourable conditions for activity of NGOs and independent media.

MEPs also showed Minsk a carrot besides a stick. The resolution welcomes the Council's recent decision to prolong sanctions against certain Belarusian officials until October 2010. The EP thinks the sanctions can be completely lifted if Belarus demonstrates progress in democratic reforms. The resolution recommends the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to consider increasing their financial assistance to Belarus.

The Belarusian opposition has already expressed satisfaction with the European Parliament resolution. As Andrei Sannikov, a coordinator of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, told Kommersant paper that was one of rare cases when “Europe showed a fast reaction to human rights violations, in this case, to abductions”.

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