The legislators sharply criticized the European Commission, having noted deterioration of the situation in Belarus.
Yesterday, during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg the resolution ‘On deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97’ was adopted. Before the actual voting on the resolution, the MEPs discussed the state of affairs inside Belarus and the foreign policy of the EU in the Belarusian direction.
“Lukashenka is showing us that instead of democratizing he’s just tightening screws and persecutes those who inform the citizens of Belarus of what’s actually going on in the country,” stated initiator of the resolution Jaromír Štětina from the Czech Republic.
“The treatment of political prisoners is horrific. The case of human right defender Mikhail Zhamchuzny is particularly horrific. He has been kept in solitary confinement for most of the time since the last week of July,” said Julie Ward from Great Britain.
In Belarus, there is the “systematic and deliberate policy of harassment and intimidation of journalists, death threats to Editor-in-Chief Natallia Radzina is a particularly concerning example,” noted Charles Tannock from Great Britain.
“The Charter97 website has been blocked for almost a year, in 2010 one of its co-founders was murdered,” - Jaromír Štětina reminded.
“Dictator Lukashenka is an intimate friend of dictator Maduro, he does exactly what Mr. Maduro is doing in Venezuela: persecuting journalists, like in case of Charter’97, arresting them and putting them in jail,” Carlos Iturgaiz from Spain said.
“Dzmitry Bobryk, a journalist arrested in August in a vicious attack on press freedom, has reported that whilst in detention he was forced to sign a cooperation agreement with the KGB,” Julie Ward reminded.
The MEPs from Lithuania discussed the absense of guarantees of safety of the nuclear power station. “The political monster Lukashenka creates a nuclear monster – the Astravets NPP,” Petras Auštrevičius said.
Polish MEP Marek Yurek has told about the defense of the place of mass executions in Kurapaty, Minsk. The participants of the actions constantly get arrested.
“Critical interaction” and “closer cooperation” remain the official EU policy, the representative of the European Commission informed. The MEPs sharply criticized such policy of cooperation with the Lukashenka regime.
“Millions of the EU taxpayers’ money are going to Belarus. Don’t you think they are being used for the construction of the nuclear power plant and restriction of media freedom?” Lithuanian MEP Bronis Rope asked the representative of the Commission.
“In 2016, the EU lifted most sanctions that were in place against the Belarusian officials and companies in a spirit of engagement, hoping for better relations which would lead to better fundamental freedoms. It is now clear that this is not working. The case of Charter’97 and that of the trade unionists make this failure clear,” - Clare Moody from Great Britain noted.
“Let us not be naive. Lukashenka is not interested in reforms. His searching to rapproachment with the West is based only on his desire for more money, more power and more recognition. Lukashenka only understands clear language. As long as press freedom is not respected, there can be no rapproachment,” said Mark Demesmaeker from the Netherlands.
“The European institutions have to warn Belarus that they have gone beyond the red lines and because of the seriousness of the situation it is necessary to impose sanctions against the dictator Lukashenka’s government of Belarus,” Carlos Iturgaiz said.
“I want to state very clearly: it is not enough to repeat our words of support to the website Charter’97. The Commission and the External Action Service must make sure that the block of the website is lifted. The website needs concrete financial assistance, and it must come from the European Union,” Petras Auštrevičius stated.
It’s now time to firmly remind the Belarusian authorities to make good on their promise to move forward on human rights issues. One side of positive development on the Belarusian side would be the unblocking of the Charter’97,” Eduard Kukan from Slovakia said.
“Freedoms are indivisable. Freedoms of Belarus are our freedoms,” - Jaromír Štětina said.
Dzianis Kazakevich, Charter97.org correspondent in Brussels