Monday, March 1, 2010

Euronest delegation visits Belarus

A Euronest delegation, led by EP Chairman Kristian Vigenin visited Minsk, Belarus on 25-27 February on a fact finding mission. Chair of the Delegation for relations with Belarus Jacek Protasiewicz, Foreign Affairs Committee Rapporteur on Belarus Justas Paleckis and Chair of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights Heidi Hautala formed part of this delegation.

The mission stared with a briefing about the current situation in Belarus by the European Union Member States ambassadors and the head of the EC delegation in Minsk. Later on, OSCE representatives in Minsk, namely Deputy Head Jandos Asanov,Human Dimension Programme Assistant Svetlana Senko and Senior Programme Assistant Natalia Belikova briefed the delegation about the work of their institution, in particular about their work in relation to elections in the country. The discussion on this topic continued in the meeting with the Central Electoral Commission during which previous elections, and the upcoming local elections due to be held in April this year were questioned in detail.

The European Parliament delegation also met, and discussed human rights issues with the following representatives of the civil society in Belarus, namely:

Aleh Hulak from the Helsinki Committee,
Uladzimir Labkovich from the Viasna Human Rights Centre,
Michail Pashkevich from the Centre of Legal Technologies,
Irina Kapariha from Ekodom,
Tatsiana Shaputska from the Young Front,
Alexandr Jaroshuk, from the Independent Trade Unions,
Viktor Gutovsky from the Ukrainian Minorities´Representatives` NGO "Vatra"
Valentina Logvin, from the Ukrainian minorities´representative NGO "Sich",
Emilia Pranskute, from the Lithuania minorities´representative NGO
Andrzej Poczobut from the VP of Union of Poles in Belarus
Teresa Sobol from the Union of Poles in Ivianets

A special meeting was also held with Sakharov Prize winners Zhanna Litvina and Aliaksandr Milinkevich.

Further meetings were held with representatives of the Belarusian parliament namely:

Ms Nina Mazay, Chairperson of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Security of the Coincil of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus,

Mr Sergei Maskevich, Chairman of the International Affairs and CIS Relations Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.

During these meetings, the EP delegation brought up and discussed the situation of human rights in Belarus, the relations of the EU with Belarus, including the outcome of the previous election campaigns and results as well as Belarus´ participation in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.

In this regard, the representatives of the democratic opposition in Belarus also met the EP delegation and had an exchange of views about how should the EU shape its relations with Belarus to ensure democracy and the rule of law in the country. The opposition was represented by:

Aliaksandr Kozulin, former presidential candidate,
Aleksej Janukevich, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front,
Anatol Lebedko, Chairman of the United Civil Party,
Siarhiej Kaliakin, Leader of the Belarusian Communist Party,
Anatol Laukovich,acting Chairman of the Belarusian Social-Democratic Party "Narodnaja Hramada",
Nicolai Statkevich, leader of the Belarusian Social-Democratic Party,
Vital Rymasheuski, co-Chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democratic Party,
Jury Glushakou, vice-Chairman of the Belarusian Party of Greens

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