In the debate on the situation in Belarus organised on the initiative of the EPP Group and the Chairman of the EP Delegation for Relations with Belarus, Bogdan Zdrojewski, the European Parliament today adopted a resolution in which it assesses the political and economic situation in Belarus on the eve of presidential elections scheduled for 11 October 2015, and calls for the immediate rehabilitation of released political prisoners and the restoration of all their civil rights.
- The release of political prisoners in Belarus on August 22 is undoubtedly an important step that could potentially lead to the normalization of the relations between the EU and Belarus. However, the authorities in Minsk have already effected such actions in the past. This time we need to be assured that it is not a mere tactical move. I am cautious in my expectations, but I would like this gesture to be a sign of lasting change in the policy of Minsk - said Bogdan Zdrojewski, Chairman of the EP Delegation for Relations with Belarus, MEP from the EPP Group.
It is in our common interest to seek the way of normalization of EU-Belarus relations. For this reason, the European Union should respond to the release of political prisoners, but this response should be cautious and proportionate. The course of the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus will be crucial in this context and decide on further action in the bilateral EU-Belarus relations, including any changes in the policy of restrictive measures. In the light of the irregularities, observed by independent international observers during previous elections, it is important to ensure that the upcoming vote is conducted in accordance with accepted international standards - he said.
In order to confirm the desire to improve relations and development of economic cooperation with the EU, Minsk should also take more decisive steps towards reforming the Belarusian economy. One of the practical dimensions of this policy would be the acceleration of negotiations on visa facilitation, which would have a positive impact on Belarusian society and the abolition of the death penalty currently used by the authorities in Minsk. As emphasized by MEPs, Belarus is the only country in Europe that uses the death penalty. Since 2010, 10 people were executed, including 3 of them in 2014. Another verdict of this nature has been announced this year in March.