European Parliament’s Rapporteur on Belarus Justas Paleckis arrives in Minsk
Justas Paleckis, 71, European Parliament’s Rapporteur on Belarus, arrived in Minsk on a working visit to end on March 21. The purpose of the visit is the preparation of the report on the state of relations between the EU and Belarus, the BelaPAN news agency reports.
On the first day of his visit the Lithuanian MEP Paleckis met with the head of the EU’s mission Maira Mora, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Alena Kupchyna, head of the Belarusian Leftist Party “Fair World” Siarhei Kaliakin and co-chair of the organizing committee of the party “Belarusian Christian Democracy” Vital Rymasheuski.
On March 19, the MEP is expected to meet with ambassadors of EU countries, including the Ambassador of Germany Wolfram Maas and Poland Leszek Sherepka, the US Charge d'Affaires Ethan Goldrich, as well as Assistant to the President for Foreign Affairs Valery Bryliou and chairman of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka.
On March 20 Mr. Paleckis will meet with the head of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak and representative of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich, Head of BelaPAN’s Analytics Projects Aliaksandr Klaskouski, head of the analytical center “Strategy” Leanid Zaika, Deputy Economy Minister Dzmitry Holukhau, chairman of the Coordinating Committee of the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership’s Civil Society Forum Uladzimir Matskevich.
The agenda of March 21 includes events with the participation of the BPF Chairman Aliaksei Yanukevich, leader of the “For Freedom” movement Aliaksandr Milinkevich and representative of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies Dzianis Meliantsou.
Vital Rymasheuski told BelaPAN that his conversation with Paleckis dealt with the format of relations between the EU and Belarus, “the possibility of developing a dialogue with the EU’s new strategy.” According to Rymasheuski, the EU expects the Belarusian authorities to take concrete steps for rapprochement. He noted that the MEP belongs to the Social Democrats, who are traditionally milder towards the regime in Minsk. Nevertheless, according to the Belarusian politician, at a meeting at the Foreign Ministry, Paleckis raised the issue of political prisoners. “To this he received a reply that it is not the competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Rymasheuski.
The Co-chair of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy told the MEP that talking with Aliaksandr Lukashenka is only possible from a position of strength and the EU in any case should not leave the previously announced position: the release and rehabilitation of political prisoners, free elections, and others. “Negotiations with the regime are needed, and they will take place, but they should be open, not to repeat the situation of December 19, 2010, after which Lukashenka expressed resentment that the EU had cheated him,” said the politician. According to him, the head of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Uladzimir Makei should not be excluded from the EU travel black list, as “nothing will change if the authorities’ position will be voiced by someone else, because foreign policy is determined by Lukashenka. In addition, many European politicians are included in the Belarusian black list.”
Rymasheuski also told Paleckis that the main threat to the sovereignty of the country is not the possible purchase of domestic enterprises by Russia, but the non-competitiveness of the whole of the Belarusian system – economic, political, military, and other fields.