Tag Archives: Belarus

Belarus: EU “ready” for additional sanctions

Brussels 13.11.2020 The EU Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy made a statement on the tragic death of Mr.Bandarenka caused by police brutality.

“On 12 November, 31-year old Raman Bandarenka died after several hours of surgery in a hospital in Minsk due to serious injuries caused, according to reports, by the brutality of plain clothed policemen. This is an outrageous and shameful result of the actions by the Belarusian authorities who have not only directly and violently carried out repression of their own population, but also created an environment whereby such lawless, violent acts can take place, thus ignoring not only the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Belarusian people but also disregarding their lives. The European Union expresses its deepest condolences to Mr Bandarenka’s family and friends”.

“The EU stands in solidarity with all the Belarusians who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the Belarusian authorities in the aftermath of the 9 August falsified presidential elections.The EU continues to strongly condemn violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, persons engaged in the pro-democracy movement, independent media, representatives of civil society or ordinary Belarusian citizens. We expect the authorities to end the violence and persecution, to release immediately and unconditionally all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners, and to investigate fully and transparently all human rights violations and abuses, and hold those responsible to account. The European Union has already imposed sanctions on 55 individuals responsible for violent repression and intimidation, and stands ready to impose additional sanctions”.

Raman Bandarenka was detained at Square of Change on November 11. According to Belsat, the protestor was taken to the hospital with a closed craniocerebral injury, acute subdural head hematomas, brain hemorrhage. Roman has fallen into a coma, and later was declared dead.

After the news about the death of Bandarenka, thousands of Minsk citizens started to bring flowers and icon lamps to the Square of Change. The spontaneous memorials and vigils in his honour were created in many cities of Belarus, as well as at entrances the Belarusian embassies in Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine, where people continued to bring flowers and candels.

SAKHAROV 2020: Belarus democratic opposition

Brussels 22.10.2020 The democratic opposition in Belarus has been awarded the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. (Image: riot police in Minsk, Belarus, attacking peaceful demonstrators, source: social media).

European Parliament President David Sassoli announced the laureates in the Brussels plenary chamber at noon on Thursday, following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents (President and political group leaders).

“Let me congratulate the representatives of the Belarusian opposition for their courage, resilience and determination. They have stood and still stay strong in the face of a much stronger adversary. But they have on their side something that brute force can never defeat – and this is the truth. So my message for you, dear laureates, is to stay strong and not to give up on your fight. Know that we are by your side”, President Sassoli said, following the decision.

“I would also like to add a word on the recent killing of one of this year’s finalists, Mr Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo, part of the Guapinol environmental group. The group is opposing an iron oxide mine in Honduras. It is imperative that a credible, independent and immediate investigation is launched into this case and those responsible must be held to account”, he added.

Protesting against a brutal regime

The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women, as well as prominent political and civil society figures. Read more about the laureates, as well as the other finalists here (Tweet below):

Belarus has been in the midst of a political crisis since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August, which led to an uprising against authoritarian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka and a subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators by the regime.

The Sakharov award ceremony will be held on 16 December.

On October 21, Parliament also adopted new recommendations calling for a comprehensive review of the EU’s relations with Belarus.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros.

Last year, the prize was given to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.

EP: Sakharov Prize shortlist

The democratic opposition in Belarus, Guapinol activists and Berta Cáceres, and the archbishop of Mosul were shortlisted for the 2020 Sakharov Prize on October 12.

Following a joint vote by MEPs in the Foreign Affairs and Development committees on Monday 12 October, the finalists for the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:

The democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures;

Guapinol activists and Berta Cáceres in Honduras;

Mgr Najeeb Moussa Michaeel, archbishop of Mosul, Iraq.

The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (President and political groups’ leaders) will select the final laureate on Thursday 22 October. The prize itself will be awarded in a ceremony in Parliament’s HNemicycle on 16 December.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros.

Last year, the prize was given to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.

EU regrets Lukashenko demands

“The demand of the Belarusian authorities that Poland and Lithuania withdraw their ambassadors and significantly reduce their diplomatic representations in Minsk is unfounded and regrettable. It goes against the logic of dialogue and will only further isolate the authorities in Minsk” reads the statement of the EU lead spokesperson.

“Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to target certain EU Member States will not succeed in weakening EU unity, which was clearly reaffirmed by the European Council on 1 October when all EU Member States called on the Belarusian authorities to end violence and repression, release all detainees and political prisoners, respect media freedom and civil society, and start an inclusive national dialogue” 

“The EU continues to support the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their President through new free and fair elections, without external interference” the statement concludes.

Belarus authorities announced sanctions against the European Union on October 2 in retaliation to restrictive measures agreed by European leaders hours before over the sham presidential election.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s statement accused the EU of “striving towards the deterioration of relations with us” and imposed its own set of sanctions against the bloc.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 2 he was sure the problems that had emerged in Belarus after the presidential elections would be settled soon, the Kremlin press service said after his telephone conversation with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.

“The presidents also discussed various aspects of the post-election situation in Belarus in the context of the ongoing attempts of outside interference. Confidence was expressed that the current problems will soon be settled,” the press service said, adding that the telephone conversation was initiated by the Belarusian side.

MAVRIDES: CYPRUS-SANCTIONS-DISTORTIONS

Costas MAVRIDES, MEP, OPINION Cyprus position on sanctions vs distortions
Erdogan is breaking fundamental EU and International Law in his expansionist policies to restore the Ottoman empire and turn himself into the Sultan of modern times. Domestically, he crashed the media and imprisoned thousands of journalists, academics, judges and political opponents. He is obsessed with Islamism, recently converted two of the finest Byzantine Christian cathedrals into mosques against UNESCO rules and promoting political Islam in Europe. He has breached NATO obligations by buying Russian missiles. He turned the migration flow into a tool for blackmailing the EU and interferes in the politics of European countries including France and Germany, insisting that Turkish EU citizens owe loyalty only to Turkey. He invaded into Iraq and Syria where still occupies the Afrin area. He has an open war on the Kurds within and around Turkey. He intervened in Libya and continues his aggression with the supply of arms against the UN Security Council Resolutions. He has illegally militarize the sea in the Aegean, acting against the sovereign rights of Greece. He has invaded in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus extending Turkish illegal occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus into its waters zones.

The invasion in the Cyprus water zones is taking place for some years now for which Cyprus is pleading for EU solidarity. Last week, the European Parliament has spoken once again, condemning the aggression of Turkey in the Mediterranean and calling the European Council to consider targeted and sectoral sanctions against Turkey. These blatant violations of rule of law within Turkey and against EU and International Law -against the sovereign rights of two member states of EU-, take place while Turkey is an EU accession country.
The last few weeks we have seen the authoritarian regime of Belarus actions against its citizens. During the Council in Berlin an agreement was reached that EU sanctions are going to be imposed on Belarus and Turkey. Now, some member states don’t want sanctions on Turkey, while Cyprus insists on the implementation of the agreement reached asking for sanctions on both Turkey and Belarus. The EU High Representative Josep Borrell stated in the EP that sanctions will be imposed on Turkey over its actions in the Cypriot EEZ and called the EU member states to implement the Berlin agreement. The above are the facts without any distortions. Anyone can decide who is the defender of European values, EU Law and Europe long term interests.
Costas Mavrides, Member of European Parliament
Chair of the Political Committee of the Mediterranean
Member of Cyprus Democratic Party

Cyprus blocks EU anti-Lukashenko sanctions

Cyprus vetoed attempts by the EU member-states to impose sanctions against some 40 Belarusian officials, including incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko.

The measures were being considered in response to the sham election that saw Lukashenko elected to a sixth term in office, and the Minsk government’s tough response to protesters who dispute the result.

Cyprus has demanded the sanctions against President Recep Tayip Erdogan to be applied first, due to a dispute over gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

The chief of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell vowed during the press-conference following the foreign affairs Council to reach unanimity by the next meeting. He added, that it is also his personal commitment.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics condemned the actions by Cyprus in a tweet, saying that it “sends a wrong signal to Belarusians, our societies and the whole world.”

Borrell meets Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

Brussels, 21.09.2020 Ahead of the Foreign ministers Council the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the Belarus opposition politician in exile: “We met with Sviatlana #Tsikhanouskaya ahead of #FAC. The EU has no hidden agenda. Belarusian people should be able to freely choose their president, without persecution and repression. Only an inclusive national dialogue can lead to a peaceful and sustainable solution #Belarus” the head of the EU diplomacy wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

The situation in Belrus after the sham elections is one of three major issues for discussion with EU Foreign Ministers. The other key topics for the EU diplomacy are “positive momentum” in Libya and relations with the African Union.

EU diplomacy focus on Africa

Brussels, 18.09.2020 The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting on September 21, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, will start at 9.30 with a discussion on current affairs.

Under this item ministers will review the most pressing issues on the international agenda, including matters relating to Lebanon, China, Turkey, Russia and Venezuela.
The Council will then exchange views on the latest developments that have taken place in Libya since the announcements made on 21 August 2020 by the Libyan political leaders on the way forward out of the crisis. The High Representative will also debrief ministers on his visit to the country on 1 September 2020.

After that, ministers will discuss relations between the EU and the African Union, in particular in preparation for the next EU-AU Foreign Ministers’ meeting. They will exchange views on bot the joint EU-Africa priorities ahead, and possible outreach to African partners on the road to the next EU-AU Summit.

Ministers will also have an opportunity to be updated on the state of play in the post-Cotonou negotiations.

Finally, the Council will discuss the latest political developments in Belarus and potential EU support for national inclusive dialogue. Ministers will also be updated on EU financial support to the people of Belarus and on the initial findings of the review of EU-Belarus relations.
Over a working lunch, ministers will exchange views on the overall partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood and how it should be framed in the future.

MEPs CALL for new elections in Belarus

17.09.2020, Brussels. MEPs call for new presidential elections in Belarus and urge the EU to sanction President Lukashenko.

In a resolution adopted by 574 votes in favour, 37 against with 82 abstentions on Septembere 17, the European Parliament rejects the official results of the “so-called presidential elections” in Belarus on 9 August this year, as these elections were conducted in a “flagrant violation of all internationally recognised standards”. Once the term of office for the incumbent authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko expires on 5 November, Parliament will no longer recognise him as the president of the country.

In the meantime, MEPs welcome the recently established Coordination Council as an “interim representation of the people demanding democratic change” in Belarus that is open to all political and social stakeholders. They also reiterate the many calls for new, free and fair elections to take place as soon as possible under international supervision.

MEPs call for EU sanctions against the group of individuals responsible for falsifying the election results and for the violent repression in Belarus, including President Lukashenko, and call on EU member states in the Council to implement these restrictive measures without delay, in close coordination with international partners.

MEPs also staunchly condemn the mass arrests and ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, strike leaders and journalists in the country, with many reports of ill-treatment, rape and torture emerging from
Belarusian detention centres and jails.

The resolution finally underlines the important contribution made by prominent female opposition members, led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veranika Tsapkala and Maria Kalesnikova, during the protests. It demands the immediate release of the arrested members of the Coordination Council and all those arbitrarily detained for political reasons.
The text notes that many Belarusians consider Tikhanovskaya to be the winner of the presidential elections and Belarus’ real president-elect.

#SOTEU: Leyen on FOREIGN POLICY

On 16 September, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her first State of the Union speech, shared her vision for a stronger Europe and a better world after the coronavirus pandemic. Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the Union address before the European Parliament, Strasbourg. However this year the event took place in Brussels due to the coronavirus restrictions in France. Part of the speech, although significantly reduced, was devoted to foreign policy and human rights.

Be it in Hong Kong, Moscow or Minsk: Europe must take a clear and swift position. I want to say it loud and clear: the European Union is on the side of the people of Belarus. We have all been moved by the immense courage of those peacefully gathering in Independence Square or taking part in the fearless women’s march” president von der Leyen said.

“The elections that brought them into the street were neither free nor fair. And the brutal response by the government ever since has been shameful.The people of Belarus must be free to decide their own future for themselves. They are not pieces on someone else’s chess board.

“To those that advocate closer ties with Russia, I say that the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with an advanced chemical agent is not a one off. We have seen the pattern in Georgia and Ukraine, Syria and Salisbury – and in election meddling around the world. This pattern is not changing – and no pipeline will change that.
Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour. But while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing. Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighbourhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.

“Our Member States, Cyprus and Greece, can always count on Europe’s full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights.

“De-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in our mutual interest. The return of exploratory vessels to Turkish ports in the past few days is a positive step in this direction. This is necessary to create the much needed space for dialogue. Refraining from unilateral actions and resuming talks in genuine good faith is the only path forward. The only path to stability and lasting solutions”.

« Older Entries