The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has adopted its Recommendation on the EU’s policy towards Belarus reiterating the need for the unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners as a prerequisite for a gradual lifting of EU restrictive measures and for an upgrade of EU-Belarus relations.
“The release of all political prisoners is a condition sine qua non for unlocking EU-Belarus relations. The human rights situation in Belarus remains, in general, very worrying therefore we, in the EPP Group, managed to streamline the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights throughout the whole Report. We also emphasised that civil society should participate on an equal footing with the authorities in the Dialogue for Modernisation and people-to-people contact should also be facilitated by the simplification of visa procedures and, in the longer term, with the possibility to have visa-free travel for Belarusian people“, said Jacek Protasiewicz MEP, EPP Group Shadow Rapporteur.
“As long as political prisoners are not released, a moratorium on the use of the death penalty will not be established and free and fair elections will not take place, which means no improvement in terms of human rights in Belarus”, added Filip Kaczmarek MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Belarus.
Both stressed that any resumption of the dialogue between the EU and Minsk should be under strict conditions and depend on progress in the fields of human rights, civil freedoms and democracy. The same conditions should also apply to the recent decision of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers on suspending the EU visa ban on the chief of Belarusian diplomacy Vladimir Makey.
“By granting Mr Makey the right to travel on its territory, the EU is confirming its offer of assistance and advice to Belarus. I truly hope that the Belarusian authorities will seize this unique opportunity, with the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU and the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November, to start a concrete and solid dialogue with the EU on democratic reforms, respect of the rule of law, human rights and basic freedoms”, concluded Jacek Protasiewicz.