German president expresses hope for Council of Europe accession talks with Belarus

2013 2013-04-23T16:05:24+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

German Federal President Joachim Gauck expressed hope on Tuesday that the situation in Belarus would change, and that talks about its accession to the Council of Europe would finally begin.

This may happen if the Belarusian government abolishes the death penalty, releases the political prisoners and carries out democratic reforms, Mr. Gauck said, speaking during a meeting of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg.

Belarus is the only country in Europe that is not a member of the Council of Europe.

In 1993, the Belarusian parliament was granted special guest status at PACE, but was stripped of it in 1996 following a referendum that approved the use of the death penalty in the country.

In June 2009, PACE decided that the Belarusian parliament’s special guest status in the Assembly might be restored only after Minsk imposed a moratorium on the death penalty.

The following year Belarus carried out a number of executions after which PACE advised its members against visiting Belarus.

The use of the death penalty makes it impossible for Belarus to have any status in the Council of Europe, Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland told reporters in Strasbourg in January 2012.