EU urges Belarus to release all arbitrarily detained political activists
An ad hoc meeting of EU and Belarus senior officials took place yesterday, July 23, in Brussels. The discussions focused on the situation in the field of human rights and democracy in the context of the upcoming Presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August. The EU reiterated its concerns over Belarus’ lack of observance of fundamental freedoms and the seemingly arbitrary exclusion of candidates from the electoral process. The EU called on Belarus to release all political activists arbitrarily detained, to ensure their access to legal counsel, as well as for fair, impartial and transparent investigation in all cases. The EU side regretted Belarus did not extend in due time the invitation to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and urged Belarus to respect international election standards throughout the rest of the electoral process.
The EU referred to its support to Belarus and its citizens within the framework of the “Team Europe” response to covid-19 including the first delivery of medical equipment which took place on 22 June, as well as support to vulnerable groups and SMEs.
Both sides also discussed the state of play in the negotiations of the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities, an important means of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
The EU side underlined the importance of Belarus’ continued close cooperation with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group in implementing the recommendations of the stress test on the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant. In this regard, the EU welcomed the agreement to move forward with a peer review of Belarus’ National Action Plan with a view to complete the exercise by the end of the year.
The EU delegation was led by Luc Devigne, Acting Managing Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service. The delegation of Belarus was led by Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.