EURONEST Vice-Chairman: ’Suspending visa ban is not a shift in EU policy’

The policy of sanctions towards the Belarusian regime remains unchanged.

Commenting on the decision by the Council of the European Union to suspend the visa ban on Uladzimir Makey, Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, MEP, Vice-Chairman of the Eastern Partnership Parliamentary Assembly EURONEST and Co-chairman of EURONEST’s working group on Belarus, said:

‘Individual and temporary suspension of the visa ban on Uladzimir Makey is aimed at the preparation of the Eastern Partnership Summit and his participation in this, and therefore should be treated as a technical decision. It does not mean in any way a change in the EU’s policy of targeted sanctions. Such a shift would only be possible after making significant progress in respecting standards of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Belarus, including the release and full rehabilitation of political prisoners. In addition, such progress must be acknowledged by all parties, including civil society and human rights organisations such as the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Lack of progress on human rights and the continuous deterioration of the conditions of the functioning of civil society and political activists are invariably outrageous. The Belarusian authorities’ indifference to the calls of the international community contributes to the further deterioration of relations with the EU and the progressive self-isolation of Belarus. What’s more, the recent restrictive legislative changes led to the further repression of civil society, including human rights defenders, independent media and legal defenders.

Civil society remains a key player in the political dialogue with the EU, engaging for democratic change in Belarus. We must support them and along with it the idea of a civil society conference before the third summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius.

We also need to renew political and financial support for independent media such as TV Belsat, Radio Right and Charter 97, whose daily work allows Belarusian citizens free access to the media promoting democratic values.

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