OSCE: EU Statement on Belarus

OSCE: EU Statement on Belarus

Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Permanent Council No. 634
9 November 2006

Let me start by quoting the Statement of 8 November by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the sentencing of Dmitry Dashkevich, a member of the Belarusian opposition youth organization Malady Front, and the situation of Aleksandr Kozulin, former presidential candidate.

"The European Union is deeply concerned about the sentencing of Dmitry (Zmitser) Dashkevich, a member of the opposition youth organization Malady Front (Young front) to 18 months' imprisonment on 1 November 2006. The accusations against Dmitry Dashkevich of running an unregistered organization are politically motivated and show the Belarusian authorities' repeated unwillingness to respect international human rights standards, especially the right to a fair trial. The European Union also expresses its concern about the denial of access of observers to the trial. The European Union also reiterates its concern about the wellbeing of the former Belarusian presidential candidate Aleksandr Kozulin and urges the Belarusian authorities to grant family members and international monitors free access to Aleksandr Kozulin.

The European Union calls upon the Belarusian authorities to promptly release Dmitry Dashkevich, Aleksandr Kozulin, the members of the Belarusian NGO "Partnership" as well as all other political prisoners."

 In addition to the presidency statement just quoted, we would like to express the EU's concern about the continued intimidation and harassment of NGOs and human rights activists in Belarus, including the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the leader of the Union of Belarusian Poles. We recall that we have previously made clear our concern about legislative measures severely restricting   the activities of NGOs in Belarus.

The EU is also concerned about recent amendments to the electoral code of Belarus which further restrict the activities of political parties during the pre-election campaign.

The EU remains open to developing its relations with Belarus when the Belarusian authorities demonstrate their sincere willingness to respect human rights and democratic values. In this regard we note with regret that recently three European Parliament members, and two members of the German Bundestag were denied Belarusian visas and are thus prevented from participating in the Minsk Forum "Belarus - Neighbourhood and Transit in Europe:  Foreign Policy, Economy and Society". 

The EU notes that the board of the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus has reversed all previous court decisions regarding the New Life Church. We trust that the final ruling will affirm the respect for freedom of religion in Belarus.

Finally, the EU congratulates Mr. Alyaksandr Milinkevich on winning the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament. This award demonstrates how highly the people of the EU value the dedicated and courageous work of those who strive for democracy in Belarus.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process