Martin Uggla: No place for Lukashenka in Riga
The EU should not turn a blind eye to human rights violations in Belarus.
The Swedish Government should do everything to make Latvia - the current Chairman of the EU- not to invite Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka to the Summit of the Eastern Partnership in Riga, the human rights activist believes.
The statement of Martin Uggla, the head of the human rights organization Östgruppen, appeared on pages of Upsala Nya Tidning, Radio Svaboda reports.
Martin Uggla notes that now Latvia, taking the Presidency in the EU these six months, gives signals to invite Belarusian ruler at the summit of the Eastern Partnership in Riga.
"However, if EU sanctions against Lukashenka are still in force, the union leadership must lift them", Martin Uggla writes.
Swedish civil right activist says because of events in Ukraine Brussels stopped the criticism of human rights violations in Belarus. The European Union welcomes Lukashenka's intention to take a neutral position in the conflict. It seems that the EU is even ready to resume economic and political cooperation with the Belarusian regime, despite the pressure put on the opposition and dissidents. However, the ban for the Belarusian dictator and other high officials of Belarus to visit European countries is still in force.
It is known that the EU position towards sanctions allows certain degorations. For example, if a visit of a Belarusian official justified by humanitarian considerations, or his participation in meetings at the intergovernmental level (OSCE) is useful, or it contributes to the promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Belarus.
In such cases, one or more members of the EU write to the EU Council to derogate from the general rule. In the absence of votes "against", the consent is granted. If there is at least one person "against", the qualify majority will decided upon the issue.
Martin Uggla says at the meeting of the European Council Sweden must resist Latvia's intentions to lift sanctions. Other countries should be called to vote "against". This is the only way to show the attitude towards the situation with democracy and human rights in Belarus, as well as to stop any intentions to invite Lukashenka to the EU.