European Parliament debates Belarus in wake of crackdown

The European Parliament's Foreign Affairs (AFET) Committee is holding today, on 12 January, an extraordinary meeting on the situation in Belarus, in a debate described by EP President Jerzi Buzek as "a timely opportunity to start discussing possible revision of the EU policy towards Belarus following the violent aftermath of the presidential election."

Prior to the meeting, which he is due to address, Buzek said that Parliament, together with the European Commission and the OSCE, "would like to brainstorm on the practical aspects of how the international community, and in particular the European Union, can help to give democracy and freedom a real chance in Belarus."

"All European institutions should rethink their relations with Belarus. After 19 December the situation has changed. Our relations should reflect that," said Buzek in a separate statement after meeting the Belarusian opposition and civil society representatives, who were also invited to share their views with the MEPs during the debates.

Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Delegation for relations with Belarus and the Delegation to the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly were due to take part in today's discussions as well.

Among other issues, MEPs are expected to raise the question of whether Belarus can remain part of the Eastern Partnership. "We can no longer accept that the authoritarian regime of Belarus still takes advantage of being part of the Eastern Partnership which is designed to promote the Eastern neighbours of the European Union, while it still acts as a brutal dictatorship," said Gunnar Hokmark, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group responsible for the Enlargement and ENP, prior to the meeting.

Hokmark said it was time to convene the Parliamentary Assembly for the Eastern Partnership but without Belarussian participation. "Under these circumstances, there is no room for Belarus in the Eastern Partnership", he said. (ENPI Info Centre)


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