As the tension between the authoritarian regime in Minsk and peaceful protesters rises, the European Parliament is again debating today the situation in Belarus, ahead of the adoption on Wednesday of its recommendation for the EU policy towards this neighbouring country. For the Socialists and Democrats, the EU’s relationship with Minsk depends on the respect of basic human rights and the Belarusian citizens’ demands for democratic change.
MEP Norbert Neuser, S&D shadow rapporteur on Belarus, said:
“Aliaksandr Lukashenka may have stolen the 9 August presidential election, but he could not steal the people’s voices! Belarusians raised their voices and took to the streets to protest against the blatant election fraud and the brutal repression of peaceful protestors. We do not recognise the election result and we repeat our call on Lukashenka to finally step down. Instead, Lukashenka has been trying to silence his people and has not shied away from using repression and intimidation, bluntly violating human rights.
“We fully support the legitimate demands of Belarusian citizens for new free and fair elections and for an end to the authoritarian rule. Belarusians deserve to decide about their own future in a democratic way as do all other Europeans.”
S&D spokesperson on foreign affairs, Tonino Picula MEP, added:
“We condemn in strongest possible terms the continued violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, opposition and civil society by the Belarusian regime. Only yesterday, authorities ordered the detention of at least five more journalists covering protests in Minsk. Cooperation with Belarusian authorities is no longer possible as long as the regime continues this brutal repression against the people and does not release all recent detainees and political prisoners. All EU financial assistance must solely benefit the civil society. We also want to support the victims of repression, offer help to deal with the socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to engage with the people: political and social activists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, and young people searching for their future in this country.
“As we have said before, the EU must review its policy towards Belarus and move from ‘critical engagement’ to ‘critical re-assessment’. We also call on the EU to reflect upon its approach to the Eastern Partnership countries that violate the joint commitments on democracy, rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights. The EU must take responsibility for the promise of security and prosperity in the common neighbourhood.”