Ales Bialiatski at European Parliament: I wasn't released from jail without any reasons
July 2, former political prisoner, head of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" met in Strasbourg with Martin Schulz, who was re-elected president of the European Parliament, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland and President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe An Braser.
The European Parliament held a press conference of the Belarusian human rights activist.
Website of Radio Liberty quoted from the speech of Ales Bialiatski:
"There are fundamental requirements of the Council of Europe, which are also important for us. They concern the abolition of the death penalty or a moratorium on it, the release of political prisoners and holding fair elections. In my opinion, the Belarusian authorities can not implement these requirements right now. However, dealing with the Belarusian authorities, you should understand that my release was not an occasion. It means that the Belarusian authorities are relations with the EU. It is also related to the geopolitical situation in the region. The Economic Union with Russia and Kazakhstan, joined by Belarus, made our country too close to Russia, and President Lukashenka wants to have room to maneuver. Especially because the events in Ukraine alerted the authorities of Belarus on their eastern neighbor. And this desire, or need, to improve relations with the EU, the need to "grow a second wing" forces President Lukashenka to make some concessions.
However, it is difficult to predict how far these concessions could go. We have had such periods, in 2008-2010, but than it rapidly ended. Now you need to be sober, not fall into euphoria that release of Bialiatski is a significant positive step. Political prisoners remain in jail, repressive machine is working, restrictions on political, civil and social rights remain. It is necessary to monitor the situation in Belarus and to make decisions about high-level contacts with Belarus on the basis of concrete steps to improve the comprehensive human rights situation in Belarus.
"Azerbaijan" scenario for Belarus is quite far from our desires. We believe that the economic assistance which Lukashenka's regime is craving for should be closely linked with the help to civil society in Belarus. These things should be tightly linked. Otherwise, we have a situation of trade with the authoritarian regime, where the improvement of the economic situation does not improve the political and civil situation in the country, and the regime further strengthens itself and the tools aimed at suppressing freedoms in the society."