EU sanctions on the way? MEPs calling for Belarus Eurovision boycott?

According to unconfirmed reports circulating on the internet, some Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are planning an address to the European Broadcasting Union, EBU, to stop Belarus from participating in the Eurovision Song Contest as part of the sanctions recommended against the country.

The European Parliament passed on Thursday 19th January a resolution, which calls for European agencies to impose pressure on Belarus in the form of sanctions. The European Union is expected to discuss this by the end of January according to reports.

The dispute started after Alexander Lukashenko won the 19th December presidential election, which was widely condemned as rigged by international observers. Belarus leadership later stopped opposition demonstrations violently, and a reported 700 people were jailed, including all the opposition presidential candidates. One of the European Parliament's suggestions is to refuse visas for the country's leaders and those responsible for fixing the election and the jailings. It was also suggested that Belarus should not be allowed to host the Ice Hockey World Championships in 2014 as long as there are jailed dissidents in the country.

President Lukashenko was sworn in last week, with all 27 EU countries boycotting the ceremony. Mr Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994.

EBU would probably not have to follow any sanctions imposed by EU, unless the international community directly bans Belarus from taking part in international contests and events. An UN resolution banned Yugoslavia from international events in 1992, and Yugoslavia also lost its EBU membership and was thus not allowed to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest until the sanctions were lifted. The successor country Serbia and Montenegro eventually rejoined EBU early in the new millennium, and the country eventually could return in 2004, when a semifinal was introduced the contest to accommodate all those wishing to return or enter for the first time.


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