6.8.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 184/104


Thursday 21 February 2008
Belarus

P6_TA(2008)0071

European Parliament resolution of 21 February 2008 on Belarus

2009/C 184 E/17

The European Parliament,

having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Belarus, in particular to its resolution of 6 April 2006 on the situation in Belarus after the presidential elections of 19 March 2006 (1),

having regard to the Commission's declaration of 21 November 2006 on the European Union's readiness to renew its relationship with Belarus and its people within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP),

having regard to its Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, which was awarded to the Belarusian Association of Journalists on 14 December 2004 and to Aleksander Milinkevich on 13 December 2006,

having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.

whereas it has repeatedly condemned the failed presidential, parliamentary and local elections in Belarus,

B.

whereas it has called on the Council and the Commission to make proposals to put further pressure on Lukashenko's regime within international organisations and has demanded that a complete package of specific, targeted sanctions — severely punishing the perpetrators of oppression without adding to the suffering of the citizens of Belarus — be put forward,

C.

whereas it has particularly condemned the fact that local democracy, which is the cornerstone of any democratic governance and which expresses the will of ordinary people to fulfil their genuine hopes and expectations, has been disregarded and neglected in Belarus,

D.

whereas the continuous political and administrative pressure exerted upon non-governmental organisations in Belarus, threatens their existence and undermines their independence,

E.

whereas in January 2008 there was a series of protests by entrepreneurs in Minsk, and the leaders of those demonstrations were detained and often beaten,

F.

whereas positive developments in the establishment of the Commission's delegation in Minsk have taken place recently,

1.

Deeply regrets that the situation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law is not improving in Belarus; points out that continuous arbitrary arrests of members of civil society and opposition activists, notably the temporary detention of Aleksander Milinkevich, and the clampdown of the independent media, contradict the recent rhetoric of the Belarusian Government concerning their wish to improve relations with the European Union;

2.

Expresses its regret over the sentencing of the journalist Aliaksandr Zdvizhkov to three years' imprisonment, considering that punishment to be unjustly harsh, and calls on the Belarusian Government to reconsider the decision;

3.

Takes note of the recent release of several democratic opposition activists including the leaders of the Youth Movement of the Belarusian Popular Front and Young Front (Malady Front), at the same time condemns the arrests of these activists, who were detained for 15 days in prison and faced expulsion from university, following peaceful demonstrations on 16 January 2008 in Minsk to mark the day of solidarity with imprisoned Belarusian opposition activists and the families of missing prominent Belarusians;

4.

Urges the Belarusian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally the remaining political prisoner, Alyaksandr Kazulin, and stop using intimidation, harassment, targeted arrests and politically motivated prosecutions against the activists of the democratic opposition and civil society in Belarus;

5.

Welcomes the recent developments on the agreements to establish the Commission's delegation in Minsk as a positive step towards renewing dialogue with the European Union; encourages the Commission to use the full potential of the opening of the delegation;

6.

Recalls that on 21 November 2006 the Europe Union declared its readiness to renew its relationship with Belarus and its people within the framework of the ENP as soon as the Belarusian Government demonstrates respect for democratic values and for the basic rights of the Belarusian people;

7.

Emphasises that in order to engage in any substantial dialogue with the EU, Belarus needs to fulfil the remaining conditions laid down in the ‘non-paper’ entitled ‘What the European Union could bring to Belarus’, which include the release of all political prisoners, the abolition of the death penalty, an assurance of a free media and freedom of expression, the independence of the judiciary and respect for democratic values and for the basic rights of the Belarusian people;

8.

Condemns the fact that Belarus is the only country in Europe which still has the death penalty, which is counter to European values;

9.

Urges the Belarusian authorities to revoke Decree No 70 of 8 February 2008, provisions of which violate the right to education of Belarusian citizens by creating barriers to entry into higher education institutions;

10.

Urges the Belarusian authorities to implement Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) standards in the organisation of the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for 28 September 2008; calls on the Government to give democratic opposition representatives access to district election commissions, to grant registration to all parliamentary candidates and their observers, and not to create obstacles for a comprehensive and complete international election observation mission;

11.

Calls on the Council and the Commission to take further steps towards the facilitation and liberalisation of visa procedures for Belarusian citizens, as only such action can help to fulfil the main goal of EU policy towards Belarus, namely to facilitate and intensify people-to-people contacts and to democratise that country; urges them in this context to consider the possibilities of waiving the cost of visas for Belarusian citizens entering Schengen territory, which is the only way to prevent Belarus and its citizens from becoming increasingly isolated;

12.

Calls on Member States in the Schengen area to use all available tools (national visa costs) to facilitate the movement of Belarusian citizens within each Member State's territory;

13.

Calls on the Council, the Commission and the international community as a whole to extend more support to the civil society of Belarus and, in particular, to increase financial aid to the independent media, to non-governmental organisations and to Belarusian students studying abroad; welcomes the financial support given by the Commission to the European Humanities University in Vilnius (Lithuania); calls on the Council and the Commission to consider financial support for the existing project aimed at the creation of the independent Belarusian television channel Belsat;

14.

Expresses solidarity with the united democratic opposition of Belarus and the leader of that movement, Aleksander Milinkevich, and all Belarusian citizens who strive for an independent, open and democratic Belarus based on the rule of law; encourages the leaders of the opposition to demonstrate unity and resolve in the upcoming parliamentary elections;

15.

Deplores the decision of the Belarusian authorities to refuse repeatedly entrance visas to the Members of the European Parliament and national parliamentarians in the last couple of years; calls on the Belarusian authorities not to create any further obstacles preventing the European Parliament delegation for relations with Belarus from visiting the country and from observing and obtaining first-hand experience in Belarus;

16.

Condemns the restrictions imposed by the Belarusian authorities on foreign clergy, aimed at limiting their access to the country to serve religious organisations, and calls on the Belarusian authorities to cease these restrictions;

17.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and the Belarusian authorities.


(1)  OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 304.