Tag Archives: Belarus

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”.

Opposition politician arrest in Minsk

A member of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council Maria Kolesnikova #Kalesnikava has been arrested and placed in a pre-trial detention center in Minsk, to various sources report. (Image: social media).

“The head of the investigative group of the Investigative Committee’s main investigation department Vasilyuk called me and informed that she had been arrested,” Maria’s father Alexander Kolesnikov said on September 9, according to tut.by portal.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian State Border Committee noted that information on Kolesnikova’s whereabouts and a legal assessment of her actions would be provided later.

On Tuesday, Belarus-1 state TV channel reported on its Telegram channel that Kolesnikova had been detained while trying to illegally cross the border with Ukraine. According to the Belarusian State Border Committee, she was going through border control together with the Council’s spokesman Anton Rodnenkov and executive secretary Ivan Kravtsov. The two men passed the control and later headed to Kiev, where they established contact.

The representatives of former presidential hopeful Viktor Babariko announced that Kolesnikova had been allegedly in the Mozyr border guard detachment and was later taken to Minsk.

The presidential election in Belarus was held on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko was an absolute winner with 80.10% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was considered as his key rival, came in second with 10.12% of the vote.

She refused to recognize the official election results and exiled in Lithuania. Shortly after the exit poll results were announced, mass protests broke out in the country, which degenerated into clashes with law enforcement officers.

The authorities demand the end of the rallies, while the Coordination Council set up by the opposition calls to continue protests, demanding to cancel sham elections results, and set a new date for free and fair elections, releasing all political prisoners, who could not participate.

EU condemns Belarus arbitrary detentions

“We strongly condemn the unabating arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds in Belarus that have been taking place since the start of the pre-presidential election campaign. Most recently, Maria Kalesnikova, Andrei Yahorau, Irina Sukhiy, Anton Radniankou, and Ivan Krautsou have all been targeted, while 633 people were detained following Sunday’s peaceful Unity March. It is clear that the State authorities in Belarus continue to intimidate or allow intimidation of its citizens in an increasingly lawless way and crudely violate both their own domestic laws and international obligations” reads the statement by the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell on arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds in Belarus.

“The EU expects the Belarusian authorities to ensure the immediate release of all detained on political grounds before and after the falsified 9 August presidential elections.

“Civil society and actors engaged in discussions on the future of Belarus, including members of the Coordination Council, must be protected from intimidation, forced exile, arbitrary arrest and violence. The rule of law and justice must prevail and a thorough and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses must take place, in order to hold those responsible to account.

“We expect the authorities to stop political persecution and engage in an inclusive national dialogue, in full respect of the Belarusian people’s democratic and fundamental rights.

“The EU will impose sanctions on individuals responsible for violence, repression and falsification of election results”.

EU supports OSCE mediation in Belarus crisis

The EU Foreign ministers have been addressing the situation in Belarus during their meeting in Gymnich informal format which took place in Berlin for two days August 27-28.

«The European Union does not recognise the results of the election and considers the actions of the authorities unacceptable» said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at concluding press-conference.

«We, once again, express our fully support to Belarus’ sovereignty and independence, condemn the violent repression of the Belarusian people and we ask the authorities to engage in an inclusive dialogue to move out of the crisis.

«The important things in concrete terms: First, Belarus being a member of the OSCE, we think that the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office’s proposal to visit and facilitate a dialogue should be accepted by the authorities. As the European Union, we support this in any way we can.
There was political agreement among Ministers to designate selected individuals responsible for the fraudulent elections in Belarus and for the subsequent crackdown under the existing Belarus sanctions regime. These designations shall include individuals at the high political level.

«Now, the detailed list and the respective legal acts will be prepared by the competent Council Working Groups in the coming days with a view to be adopted [by the Council] as soon as possible.
With regard to that, I have just received a letter signed by 11 members of the Council asking to do it as soon as possible, and pressing for quick decision-making. But we have to do that according to all the legal procedures.

«Finally, we push for a national dialogue that is the only way to see democracy and fundamental freedoms respected in Belarus».

EU expects Belarus to release journalists

«Belarus: the EU expects from authorities the immediate and unconditional release of detained journalists, along with ALL peaceful protesters. Let media do their jobs without intimidation. A FreePress is crucial to the democracy demanded by the people of Belarusé» the European External Action Service spokesperson wrote on his Twitter micro blog. (Image above: social media).

Belarusian police detained at least 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on August 27 and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, and other filming equipment Reuters news agency reported.

The interior ministry later on the same day said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check if they had valid accreditation allowing them to exercise their profession.

The authorities explained that all those with official accreditation would be released.

There were numerious reports about the detention of press by riot police, however so far the situation of jounralists remains unclear.

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