Thursday, March 11, 2010

Belarus: MEPs condemn measures against Union of Poles

The European Parliament has condemned the police action and legal measures taken against the Union of Poles in Belarus and the attempts by the authorities to impose a new leadership on the Polish community.

MEPs also urge the Belarus authorities to release political activists such as Andrei Bandarenko and prisoners of conscience such as Ivan Mikhailau and Aristyom Dubski.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, the EP demands that the Belarusian authorities re-legalise the Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB) led by Angelika Borys. The UPB is not recognised by the state authorities and has been facing regular harassment and persecution since 2005. Its members are accused of illegal activities and face criminal charges.

Parliament urges the authorities to guarantee freedom of speech and association and to guarantee the freedom to register political parties, such as the Belarusian Christian Democracy (BDC), religious freedom and the creation of conditions conducive to the work of civil society bodies such as "Viasna". The authorities should also refrain from seeking to control the content of Belarusian sites of the World Wide Web, says the resolution.

MEPs point out that the EU has shown considerable openness to engagement with Belarus, with the country's inclusion in the Eastern Partnership. The success of this process is conditional on steps taken towards democratisation and the upholding of human rights, including minority rights, by the government of Belarus.

If Belarus adheres to fundamental human rights and democracy criteria, the country could benefit from a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA), EU financial instruments such as European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), an extension of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) financing to projects involving state entities in Belarus and a restoration of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+).

Press release: European Parliament
Published on 10 March 2010 by Thomas Dudrap

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