EU continues advocating critical engagement with Belarus – head of delegation

The European Union continues advocating critical engagement with Belarus, attaching a great importance to cooperation with the country and its people, Andrea Wiktorin, head of the EU delegation to Belarus, said at a civil society conference in Minsk on Saturday, news agency BelaPAN reports.

According to the diplomat, in the last two years Belarus and the EU have taken a number of steps to improve their relations, in particular, they started visa facilitation talks and resumed their dialogue on human rights.

Remembering Belarus’ contribution to international efforts to secure peace in Ukraine, the release of several political prisoners and the lack of violence during the 2015 presidential election, the European Union suspended and later abolished its sanctions targeting Belarusian authorities, Andrea Wiktorin said.

Read also: EU should have forced more concessions from Belarus before lifting sanctions – diplomat

At the same time, the human rights situation in Belarus remains a matter of concern for the EU, she warns.

The head of the EU delegation recalled that Belarus would hold parliamentary elections in 2016 and said that the bloc called on the Belarusian government to take into account the recommendations made by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights following last year’s presidential election for the purpose of democratizing electoral regulations and electoral process.

In this context, she stressed, it is important that the Belarusian government restore the political and civil rights of former political prisoners and secure a free environment for political parties, NGOs and the media.

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