Road map for Belarus

Conference hosted by PSE, EPP-ED and ALDE Group

, by Laura Bringina, Žiga Kotnik

Road map for Belarus

Last Tuesday 31 March 2009 the Conference “Road map for Belarus” offered splendid opportunity for JEF-Europe to share similar vision of future of Belarus with several other important NGOs and Political Parties from Belarus and E.U. JEF Europe work against Lukashenka’s dictatorship was received with great warmth from the gathered representatives.

Among many non-government activists from well known and large organization like International Federation of Journalists, Amnesty International, Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights (DEMAS), and a coalition of political parties under the umbrella of United Democratic Forces in Belarus – present Belarus Christian Democracy Party express welcome to JEF-Europe.

The Republic of Belarus has still a long way to minimize the democratic deficit and establish right conditions for a true freedom and democracy for the people in Belarus. In the case of Belarus we can talk about some changes, but the real question is if there is any kind of progress to more free Belarus? Many different monitoring reports analyzing Belarus today still sadly show that fundamental freedoms like freedom of media, freedom of political persecutions and arbitrary detention, repression of civil activists and freedom of association and freedom of assembly are still repressed.

There are only two registered independent newspaper agencies; many others simply did not get their accreditations from the Court of Justice of Belarus, as they were seen as a threat to the State of Belarus. Many reporters and other activists got official warning from the Belarus government to stop their controversial behaviour; some were and still are imprisoned or even killed. Moreover, conditions for political activities are still very bad, for example, for political activities you first physically, not just literally, have to have and register headquarters of your organization, barring in mind the prices are very astronomically high, impossible for many NGOs and Political Parties to afford it. Concerning this, they officially do not have, according to the universally accepted human rights expressed in the article 19th of the Universal declaration of Human Rights and recognised by international human law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) their equal opportunity to exercise their right of freedom of speech without limitations or censorship of the government.

Without being registered at NGO or similar, you are not able to fully participate at expressing your freedom of public speech, and the government will not allow you to be politically active. Furthermore, you can end up in a prison.

The only signals of positive changes comes from implementing Electoral Code, as for Mr. Janez Lenarcic, director of Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) says, the Belarus government has shown some progress and is now officially willing to cooperate with foreign Offices. There were no official signals for cooperation from Belarus authority of any kind in the past few years.

At the conference JEF Europe shared these same common ideas with many other NGOs and Political Party, which all showed great support of JEF’s pan European action that takes place every year 18th March, on the anniversary of Lukashenka’s re-elections. This year youth in over 110 cities gagged statutes to symbolize the situation in Belarus and to demand EU for a stronger policy against the regime:

Mr. Alexander Milinkevich, Movement of Freedom: ”We need this solidarity and not only in Belarus, but in whole Europe. We need this kind of actions – like JEF-Belarus Action – and I hope this kind of actions will happen in the future as well.”

Yury Ambrazevich, Deputy Head of Mission of Belarus to EU: ”It’s very important to continue this kind of actions, and to have them in more and more contries. We heard about your action in Belarus media. Thank you. My respect to you!”

At the conference many expressed their opinion that EU is powerless at engaging the fight against Belarus dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenka or that the EU is not doing nor willing to do more to establish the solid democratic foundation of Belarus. Moreover, many suggested the EU should enforce strong economic sanctions against the Belarus. Main reason to believe so is the fact that more than 50 percent of Belarus trade in general consist of trade between Belarus and member states of the EU but despite of this, do we honestly believe, this move could really solve problems in a way economic sanction would be a signal strong enough to force Belarus government to turn into a decent democracy over night? Ideally maybe, but not necessarily in reality. In the past ten years Belarus regime has shown, it is able to find resources and trade opportunity elsewhere – particularly in Russian Federation, which is also the main ally of Belarus. Economic sanctions against Belarus will make the country even more connected to Russia, but will not necessarily solve the problem of democratic deficit.

EU needs to focus on improving the situation of the people of Belarus, not of its regime. EU must continue to cooperate with Belarus authority, but while doing so it has to strongly pursuit important objectives such as democracy and human rights. Neither EU’s decision to lift the visa ban of Lukashenka and several people of his regime, nor is to include Belarus in the Eastern Partnership a step in this direction.

EU will have to continue helping Belarus in its democratic development, rule of law and protection and prevention of violation of human rights for the better of the people of Belarus. Sooner or later the Belarus will have to recognize the right to their citizens to their freedom of speech without censorship of any kind.

Your comments

  • On 30 November 2009 at 16:49, by European Union Replying to: Road map for Belarus

    Freedom for belarussian peoples !!!!We want to drive without Visas!!!!Don’t care about Lukashenko,forbid everything for him,but for SIMPLE HUMANS MAKE Visa-free regime!!!!and last We want to unite with European Union.We are European country like France,Belgium,Poland,Czech Republic and other.We want LIBERTY FOR US and only you EU can help us!!!!!

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