The release of the political prisoners is a pre-condition for the beginning of a dialogue between the EU and the official Minsk. It was once again stated by the European Commissioner during a meeting with the deputy head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich and the head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhana Litvina on 5 December in Brussels.A number of meetings with representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle place within the framework of the visit of the Belarusian human rights defenders to Brussels, organized by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). As said by Valiantsin Stefanovich, a discussion of the situation of human rights in Belarus took place during the meeting with the European Commissioner. First of all, it concerned the issue of political prisoners and persecution of independent mass media. The European Commissioner assured that the release of the political prisoners is considered by EU as a pre-condition for starting a dialogue with the official Minsk. “Mr. Füle expressed support to all human rights defenders of Belarus and the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, which, according to him, continues working in such hard circumstances, to Ales Bialiatski and all political prisoners,” added Mr. Stefanovich. As stated by Zhana Litvina to the BAJ press-service, the liberalization of the media sphere was also discussed during the meeting.
“Any cooperation and partnership are based on mutual trust and freedom of expression. Three years ago, when a dialogue of the EU with the official Minsk started, five recommendations concerning mass media were worked out for Belarus. Unfortunately, for the last three years, none of them has been fulfilled by the Belarusian authorities.
Thus this is my principle standing that any dialogue on modernization, any negotiation process must begin with though small, but still steps from the Belarusian side.Five specific steps were enumerated today that the journalistic community has long time demanded from the authorities. These steps would testify to the slightest readiness of the official Minsk to start talks.
These demands call to dismiss charges against Andrei Pachobut and Anton Surapin; to stop persecuting the magazine Arche and to unblock its bank account; to impose moratorium on six odious criminal articles threatening freedom of expression; to introduce notifying procedure to get accreditation, and to stop violent obstruction to journalists’ activities, that happen in Belarus almost each month,” said Zhana Litvina.
After the meeting with Štefan Füle Valiantsin Stefanovich and Zhana Litvina met with journalists of the leading media, including the “Euronews” TV channel and Radio “Liberty”.