The release and rehabilitation of political prisoners is the first step for any form of cooperation between the EU and Belarus.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said it in an interview with RFE/RL.
“If you would ask me if I want to see a progress in Belarus, my answer will be very clear: yes, I do want to see a progress. Now I see a chance for the progress. There are certain signals. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei's present there. This is actually a good thing. I'd like to say that he made a constructive contribution to our discussion on the Eastern Partnership. I think the continuing engagement with him is important both for the European Union and Belarus.
And I see also a good discussion on the dialogue on modernisation and the possibility of the authorities to take part together with the civil society representatives in this very important dialogue on modernising Belarus with the assistance of the EU.
But the ultimate issue is the fate of political prisoners. Whatever opening there might be in our relationship with Belarus depends on releasing and rehabilitating political prisoners. And that is a very clear policy of the EU. I hope very much that these signals and this forthcoming Vilnius Summit won't be a missed opportunity for Belarus.
If they want any message from me, here it is: you move on the political prisoners, we then move on the full-scale programmes of cooperating with your country with the aim to modernise it,” Štefan Füle said.
It should be reminded that the international community and human rights groups demand to release the Belarusian prisoners of conscience. Seeking the release of 10 remaining political prisoners the European Union and the US imposed visa and economic restrictions on associates of the dictator – officials and businessmen involved in repressions and financial support of the regime.