On April 19, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the situation in Belarus, in which they urge the Belarusian authorities to start a dialogue with democratic opposition.
MEPs also called for the release of Belarusian political prisoners Mikhail Zhamchuzhny and Zmitser Paliyenka, as well as exoneration of all former political prisoners and complete restoration of their civil and political rights.
“The EU has repeatedly stated that the respect of fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, and human rights constitutes a clear precondition for the improvement and further advancement of relations between the European Union and Belarus; whereas, however, the situation in the country continues to remain of concern, as only very limited, timid steps for improvements can be observed in this respect,” the statement reads.
According to EU lawmakers, media outlets and journalists continue to face considerable difficulties to exercise freely their activities in the country. The facts of the police’s battering Belsat TV journalist Andrus Kozel and the blockage of independent news website Charter97.org are given as examples.
Furthermore, the resolution pushes for abandon the amendments to the Law on the Media, which might ‘threaten freedom of expression, and to end the persecution of independent bloggers for practicing free expression’.
The European Parliament also regrets that dozens of activists, including opposition leaders, were preventively detained in the run-up to unofficial Freedom Day, the event to mark the 100th anniversary of Belarus’ proclamation of independence.
MEPs called on the European External Action Service and the European Commission to continue to support Belarusian civil society and independent sources of information for Belarusians, including broadcasting in the Belarusian language and from abroad (the case of Belsat TV).
In addition, the EU expresses concern about the ‘controversial investment in a nuclear power plant in Astravets’ and asks the Belarusian authorities to ensure compliance to international standards of safety and environmental protection requirements.