One month ahead of the presidential elections in Belarus, the European Parliament today held a debate on the political situation in this neighbour country of the EU. The Socialists and Democrats strongly denounced the arbitrary arrests of opposition politicians, journalists, bloggers, civil society activists and ordinary citizens over the past weeks. At the same time they called for a new EU strategy towards Belarus, to support people of Belarus and their aspiration to live in a democratic and prosperous country.
S&D MEP Robert Biedroń, the head of the European Parliament delegation to Belarus, said:
“Just on our border in the heart of Europe, our neighbours, the people of Belarus, are being deprived of their fundamental rights: a right to freedom and a right to democracy. And while president Lukashenka has been in power for 26 years, for most of this time, political life in Belarus appeared dormant. But this is no longer the case as we are witnessing an exceptional mobilisation against the current regime. Lukashenka’s neglecting attitude to the coronavirus threat has also played a role in increasing people’s dissatisfaction.
“Lukashenka is aware of this. So he has intensified the repression against his political opponents and civil society. Belarusian citizens - whether running as presidential candidates, supporting the nomination campaigns, peacefully demonstrating for democratic elections or as simple by-standers – are being arbitrarily detained.
“We strongly condemn this ruthless crackdown and appeal for an immediate release of all the citizens who have been unjustly arrested.
“The EU must be equipped with a strategic and responsive policy towards Belarus. A policy that includes clear red lines and smart conditionality. Politics must serve the people, and so must the Belarusian leadership and EU-Belarus.”