EU/Weißrussland — EU on the situation in Belarus

Dec­la­ra­tion by the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Cather­ine Ash­ton on behalf of the EU on the sit­u­a­tion in Belarus

The Euro­pean Union express­es grave con­cern over the recent harass­ment of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of inde­pen­dent media, civ­il soci­ety and oppo­si­tion organ­i­sa­tions, includ­ing restric­tions on the free­dom of assem­bly, asso­ci­a­tion and expres­sion, as well as regrets con­tin­ued dif­fi­cul­ties with the reg­is­tra­tion of NGOs and oppo­si­tion par­ties. EU urges Belarus to address the con­cerns regard­ing the democ­ra­cy, sit­u­a­tion for human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms in the coun­try.

The cur­rent trends are par­tic­u­lar­ly wor­ri­some in the run up to the 25 April local elec­tions. The Euro­pean Union attach­es great impor­tance to their good con­duct and expects that the Belaru­sian author­i­ties do their utmost to ensure the nec­es­sary envi­ron­ment for demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tions that meet OSCE and oth­er inter­na­tion­al stan­dards. It regrets that the way of set­ting up local elec­tion com­mis­sions rais­es ques­tions on ade­quate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent NGOs. The Euro­pean Union will fol­low close­ly the con­duct of the local elec­tions.

Recall­ing its firm oppo­si­tion to the death penal­ty, the Euro­pean Union deplores the report­ed exe­cu­tion of two men car­ried out in Min­sk. EU urges the Belaru­sian author­i­ties to release com­plete infor­ma­tion on the mat­ter. Belarus is the only coun­try in Europe which still applies cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. The EU calls on Belarus to estab­lish an imme­di­ate mora­to­ri­um on the use of the death penal­ty with a view to its abo­li­tion.

The Euro­pean Union recalls its pol­i­cy of engage­ment towards Belarus, includ­ing in the con­text of the East­ern Part­ner­ship. It reit­er­ates that its readi­ness to fur­ther deep­en rela­tions with Belarus will depend on con­crete steps in Belarus towards democ­ra­cy, human rights and the rule of law. EU remains ready to assist Belarus in attain­ing these objec­tives.