During an exchange of views with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at today’s extraordinary meeting of the foreign affairs committee, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament launched a call on EU foreign ministers ahead of their Gymnich meeting on the 27th and 28th of August to critically reassess the EU’s policy towards the Belarusian regime, to rapidly implement targeted sanctions, including against Alexander Lukashenko, and to extend our support to the Belarusian people.
Kati Piri, S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, said:
“The Belarusian regime has not only massively falsified the result of recent presidential elections, but also tortured and beaten up its own citizens. This violent crackdown on people peacefully protesting for their democratic right to free and fair elections makes it imperative for the EU to move away from its policy of critical engagement towards critical assessment and response. This must include the willingness to expel Belarus from the Eastern Partnership programme.
“Ahead of their Gymnich meeting, we call on EU ministers to reiterate the EU’s call for new free and fair elections, to rapidly implement targeted sanctions against all those who are responsible for falsifying the elections and repressing the Belarusian people, including Lukashenko himself, and to coordinate these sanctions with like-minded third countries. At the same time, we must carefully avoid any negative impact on the people of Belarus. They have already suffered more than enough.”
S&D foreign affairs spokesperson Tonino Picula, added:
“We pay tribute to the courage and determination Belarusians have shown over the past days and months, peacefully protesting against the falsified elections and denouncing the horrible violence exercised by the regime against its own people. The huge support for Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya shows the thirst of people for democracy.
“Of course, we do not recognise the results of the elections, which were neither fair nor free, did not allow for election observers or respect international standards. New presidential elections must be held. All detained protesters must be released immediately and all acts of violence and inhuman treatment investigated and prosecuted.
“We Socialists and Democrats stand by the people of Belarus and support their aspirations for democratic representation and political participation. The visa waiver agreement that entered into force on 1st of July is a strong sign to the people of Belarus that we are on their side.”