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Petras Auštrevičius Proposed EU To Impose Sanctions Against Belarusian Officials

Petras Auštrevičius Proposed EU To Impose Sanctions Against Belarusian Officials

The Permanent Rapporteur of the European Parliament on Belarus addressed the Vice-President of the European Commission.

On June 8, Permanent Rapporteur of the European Parliament on Belarus, MP from Lithuania Petras Auštrevičius appealed to the Vice-President of the European Commission, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell with a request to respond to the repression against demonstrators and civil society representatives in Belarus, naviny.by reports.

The letter to the head of the EU diplomacy, a copy of which the MEP granted to BelaPAN, notes that "against the background of the growing number of citizens, who challenge the retention of power by President Lukashenko, the prospects for free and fair elections look bleak: the regime clearly has no intention to create equal conditions for candidates or consider the long-delayed recommendations of the Venice Commission of the OSCE ODIHR.

Auštrevičius notes that these problems are also mentioned in the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anais Marin, in which she "expresses serious concern about the constant violations of fundamental freedoms - peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression in the country."

"As stated in the conclusions of the European Council of February 15, 2016, the key factor in the formation of the EU policy towards Belarus is the real steps taken by the Belarusian authorities to ensure universal freedoms, rule of law and human rights, - the MEP reminded. - Over the past four years, the European Union, acting in the spirit of "critical cooperation," met Minsk halfway - signed agreements on visa facilitation and readmission, which will enter into force on July 1, doubled the amount of its assistance and the degree of involvement in technical negotiations on specific issues. Nevertheless, the Belarusian regime has not fulfilled its promises".

"Against the background of the ongoing wave of repression, in my opinion, the time has come for the EU to apply the principle of conditionality and, as far as possible, to redirect the available funds to civil society organizations that are committed to its values. This may turn out to be difficult, given the fact that the Belarusian authorities have recently imposed restrictions on international assistance to civil society organizations. Nevertheless, I believe that the EU should at least speak out more actively about the vigorous suppression of freedoms, clearly expressing solidarity with the victims of repression and unequivocally condemning the arrests of activists, opposition members and presidential candidates," - Auštrevičius noted.

He also stated that "he is deeply concerned about the flagrant attempts of government officials and pro-governmental media to present financial and technical assistance of the EU as proof that the EU supports Lukashenka or gives him some kind of carte blanche. Such "malicious attempts to disinform", in his view, "may affect the image and political rating of the EU, both inside and outside Belarus."

"Therefore, I urge all your services to resolve such situations quickly and thoroughly. We must make it clear that the EU financial and technical assistance is aimed at giving visible results to the citizens, but in no way to legitimize or strengthen the authoritarian regime," - the Lithuanian MP stressed.

Auštrevičius is convinced that the EU should start reviewing the policy towards Belarus, including the "introduction of sanctions against officials and other violators of human rights and fundamental freedoms, if the escalation of violence is not weakened, and the presidential elections are held under catastrophic circumstances."

"Taking into account the importance and given the rapidly deteriorating situation in Belarus, I urge you to respond immediately by sending a clear and decisive message to the Belarusian authorities," - the MEP urged Borrell.

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