18 January 2018, Thursday, 4:55

It is time Europe stops flirting with the dictator


A round table on the situation in Belarus was held within the winter session of the PA OSCE in Vienna.

The list of participants included leader of the civil campaign European Blearus, former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov; chairperson of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka; director of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhanna Litsvina; daughter of the former presidential candidate, now – political prisoner Mikalai Statkievich Katsiaryna; UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Miklós Haraszti; Chair of the Commitee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions of the PA OSCE Matteo Mecacci; delegations from the USA, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Georgia and other countries.

Katsiaryna Statkievich told about the situation of her father, how he is tortured and pressed in prison. She pointed out that Mikalai Statkievich urges not to make any deals with the dictatorship, because it will only bring more suffering for the political prisoners, a charter97.org correspondent reports.

Zhanna Litsvina was talking about the situation of the Belarusian press. She also told about the repressed journalists, in particular, about Iryna Khalip, Andrzej Poczobut and Anton Surapin.

Andrei Sannikov gave his opinion about how the West should act regarding Belarus:

“I said that for one year ago, at that time, I was prison. I had little hope to be released some day. But when the European Union introduced the sanctions, Dzmitry Bandarenka and I were released. I am convinced that this is the only way to make the powers release all prisoners of consciousness.

The OSCE has an extensive experience of dealing with dictatorship. Lots of concessions have been made for Lukashenka. But it has only made the dictatorship stronger. A war has been declared against an entire nation. Human rights activists report that one third of prisoners are innocent. From my personal experience I know that the number is even larger.

I suggested getting back to what was started in the early 2000s: to limit the Belarusian “chamber of representative’s” membership in the OSCE until all political prisoners are released. It’s time Europe stops flirting with the dictatorship. The European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE should start speaking in one voice, maybe resume their “triple” cooperation, because today Brussels is trying to find a way to cooperate with Lukashenka, while a commissioner of the Council of Europe has all reasons to believe that asylum is needed in the countries that border on Belarus in order to receive Belarusian oppositionists, human rights activists and journalists,” Andrei Sannikov emphasized.