Thursday

26th May 2022

MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus

  • During the course of March, more than 1000 people have been beaten up by police, arrested and fined in crackdowns on protests. (Photo: Reuters)

A group of MEPs has written to EU leaders asking them to end the warmer policy towards Belarus, which was introduced a year ago.

The MEPs wrote: "The EU cannot abandon [the] hopes [of] those thousands of people in Belarus, who, as the recent peaceful demonstrations prove, trust in a democratic and European Belarus, which would respect their [citizens'] dignity and other basic freedoms and rights."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The letter was addressed to the presidents of the European Council, Commission and the Parliament, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Antonio Tajani respectively, as well as the high representative for EU foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, and the enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

It was signed by 72 MEPs from different political groups from left and right. These include: Elmar Brok (EPP), the former chair of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, Anna Fotyga (ECR), a former Polish foreign minister, and the former EU commissioner, Danuta Huebner (EPP).

Last European dictatorship

The initiative comes after street protests over the weekend (25-26 March) in Belarus against poverty and corruption.

The last dictatorship in Europe has long been subsidised by Russia but that support has been slowing down, as Russia has been facing its own economic problems with lowering oil and gas prices.

Last month, the authorities in Minsk passed a tax of €240 a year on unemployed people, also known as the "social parasite law", in a bid to improve their finances.

More than a thousand people - including human rights observers, journalists, women and the elderly - have been beaten up by police, arrested and fined in crackdowns on the protests.

The civil unrest comes one year after the Council of the EU lifted sanctions on certain Belarusian officials in February 2016, which ended a five year freeze on EU-Belarus relations.

EU foreign ministers of state said then that "there is an opportunity for EU-Belarus relations to develop on a more positive agenda", suggesting the move could help to move Minsk away from Russia.

The MEPs say that this failed to yield any positive results.

"The lifting of sanctions was reciprocated by yet another falsified election in September 2016, a number of death penalty sentences and executions throughout 2016, including one case already this year, and now by these brutalities and aggression of the special forces in the streets of cities across Belarus," they said.

Instead, they want the EU to increase its support to civil society, independent media outlets and democratic forces in Belarus, and to suspend the recently increased EU funds provided to the Belarusian government and other state structures.

The bloc should also pass sanctions against all Belarusian officials who were responsible for violence and repression as well as electoral fraud, the MEPs say.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

Opinion

Belarus: A nation with no politics

Lukashenko will never become Gorbachov. If Belarusian people do not stop acquiescing on fake elections and other abuses, change won't come.

Belarus elections: invisible, but not trivial

The surprise elevation of two opposition candidates to parliament is designed to win friends in the West, but if the EU and US reciprocate, they'll be playing into Lukashenko's hands.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us