20 January 2018, Saturday, 6:13

Gunnar Wiegand: Rehabilitation of political prisoners remains necessary condition


The Belarusian authorities have not received an invitation to the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

The release and rehabilitation of political prisoner remains a “necessary and indispensable condition for the normalization of relations between Belarus and the European Union”, BelaPAN news agency quotes Gunnar Wiegand, the European External Action Service (EEAS)’s director for Russia, the Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and the OSCE, who made this statement on September 24.

The European official is paying a working visit to Belarus on September 24-25. He said he had met with deputy foreign minister Alena Kupchyna. He was expected to have meetings with representatives of civil society and opposition on September 24 and heads of missions of the EU countries accredited in Belarus on September 25.

The meeting with Kupchyna was “constructive and fruitful”, according to Wiegand. The main aim of the meeting was to discuss how the government can participate in the Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarus, Wiegand said. He repeated the position of the EU: the release of political prisoner is needed to normalise relations.

Answering the question about changes in the position of official Minsk that refused to participate in the European Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarus, Wiegand said the EU was working constructively on the issue and understood the sensitivity of the problem.

The EU official noted that his visit was an attempt of the EU to become closer to Belarus in the Eastern Partnership initiative that would hold a summit in Vilnius in late November. Wiegand underlined that the EU’s relations show less progress with Belarus than with the other Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. He noted the Belarus-EU relations were gradually improving.

Wiegand said the EU would like to succeed in signing visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Belarus as part of a closer cooperation in the Dialogue on Modernisation. The politician noted that the EU planned to sign visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Azerbaijan at the Vilnius Summit, while the agreements with Armenia were to take force in the nearest time. Belarus is not the only EaP member that doesn't have such agreements with the EU, Wiegand says.