Belarusian ambassador declarations reaffirm JEF’s demands for a democratic Belarus

, by Joan-Manuel Lanfranco-Pari

Belarusian ambassador declarations reaffirm JEF's demands for a democratic Belarus

The Belarusian ambassador to the EU, NATO and Belgium Uladzimir Syanko criticised the obsessive focus of the European institutions on democracy. He made this official statement in a debate on EU-Belarus relations at the European Parliament in Brussels, to which JEF-Europe attended. Mr Syanko, who regretted the lack of peace (sic) among the audience, remarked that “democratisation does not happen overnight”. Moreover, he reminded President Lukashenko’s terms for widening relations with the EU: “the main condition is to have no pre-conditions”.

The Belarusian representative showed positivism towards the Eastern Partnership proposal, in spite of the limited scope for Belarus. According to the proposal launched by the European Commission on 3 December 2008, “the level of participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership will depend on the overall development of the EU-Belarus relations” [1].

Representatives of JEF-Europe also attended another venue organised by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung at the Résidence Palace in Brussels, where members of the Belarusian civil society explained their position on the latest developments and the perspectives of the EU-Belarus relations. The description of the situation of Belarusian civil society was not engaging, given the continuous interruption of activities provoked by the Belarusian government or the creation of phantom NGOs and consultative bodies by the regime, to fulfil EU criteria on public consultation and benefit from communitarian funding programmes.

Belarus is a European country with European problems

On the view of one of the speakers, "there is no doubt that the regime does not want to be democratised”, therefore, “the main subject to be changed is the regime, not the civil society”. Nevertheless, they transmitted to the audience that Belarus is a European country with European problems, while they called for Belarusian civil society to be more closely associated with the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative. This latter claim will be difficult to achieve if the Belarusian dictator insist in excluding intermediaries in his contact with Brussels, as he stated during his meeting with Javier Solana, on the 19th of February [2]. Textually, Lukashenko asked Solana “to exclude all intermediaries in the relations between Belarus and Europe, especially those acting from the position which is not too friendly towards our country” [3].

Both venues reaffirm JEF’s demands for a democratic Belarus, where freedom of expression and association can be granted and civil society and political opposition are able to develop in normality. Therefore, JEF will organise for the fourth consecutive year a pan-European action to show support to the suppressed civil society and opposition movement in Belarus. JEF members and partners from all over Europe will gag and muzzle famous statues in as many European and worldwide cities as possible (80 cities in 2008). Under the slogan “It’s Time for Change, It’s Time for a Free Belarus”, JEF seeks to raise awareness among civil society about the last dictatorship in Europe using it as a prime example of what a European foreign policy could work to address. In light of the upcoming European elections, JEF wants to demonstrate to citizens that a Global Europe using its principles of peace, democracy and liberty can aim to work against dictatorships, war and injustice across the world.

More information at JEF-Europe’s website.

Image: Belarusian ambassador to the EU, NATO and Belgium Mr. Uladzimir Syanko; source and copyright Office for a Democratic Belarus

Read more: Group of Belarusian Experts Call For Extending Suspension of EU Travel Sanctions against Top Officials http://belarus.3dway.org/node/6381

Footnotes

[1European Commission press release “The Eastern Partnership –an ambitious new chapter in the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours”: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressRelease...

[3The Official Internet Portal of the President of the Republic of Belarus: http://president.gov.by/en/press604...

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