Jacek Protasiewicz: European Union hopes for the release of political prisoners

Jacek_Pratasievic-EU hopes for release of political prisoners

Vice-President of the European Parliament, Jacek Protasiewicz expressed confidence that now it is a time for the Belarusian officials to take steps necessary for the improvement of relations between the EU and Minsk. Above all, Belarusian authorities should free political prisoners. Minsk does not have time to spare to do that. Interviewed by Palitviazni.info, the politican told about the EU expectations.

- Has the position of the European Union on the existence of political prisoners in Belarus changed in recent years?

Jacek Protasiewicz: Absolutely not! We still demand from Minsk  release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners!

- How often the subject of political prisoners is broached in the European Union?

Jacek Protasiewicz: Lately this  topic has become very current. Only last week  the Subcommittee on Human Rights held the meeting in the European Parliament. The discussion was focused mainly on political prisoners in Belarus. In addition, I met with a representative of  the Human Rights Center Viasna. I received a full report on the situation of human rights in Belarus.I personally passed this document to  Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights. I will add, that me and my colleagues discussed the political situation in Belarus, and of course the issue of political prisoners, during the meeting of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Belarus, held last week. It’s just a short report on what is already done. And further, we plan to return to the topic of Belarusian prisoners of conscience during the examination of the report of MEP Justas Paleckis. Soon there should be organized the vote related to this document. I would add that after the changes introduced to the report, the issue of political prisoners became the key subject!

- Belarusian Foreign Minister, Uladzimir Makey was granted the right of entry to the European Union. Will the EU representatives directly request from Mr. Makey the release of political prisoners?

Jacek Protasiewicz: The decision to lift some sanctions imposed on the minister Makey was made in order to facilitate the talks at a higher political level, which is represented by the minister. The result of these discussions should be the decision of the official Minsk to release political prisoners. Only then we can talk about withdrawal of sanctions. I would like to do this that way. However, within a few months, I think, even before the Eastern Partnership Summit, we will see with our own eyes the steps taken by  the Belarusian authorities in this regard. It would be good if the Belarusian authorities appropriately estimate their further steps taken in the direction of the European Union

- And do you think that the official Minsk is ready to take a real step in the direction of the dialogue?

Jacek Protasiewicz: The aim of the suspension of visa sanctions against Belarusian foreign minister is to enable diplomatic talks of Lithuania, representing the leadership of the EU, with the official representative of the Belarusian side and allow him to come to the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit. The first and most important condition is the release of political prisoners. If Belarus sincerely seeks the dialogue with the European Union, wants to participate in the Eastern Partnership, then even before the Vilnius summit in November it should release all the political prisoners.

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