A strong Europe for a democratic Belarus

, by Elisabeth Velle

A strong Europe for a democratic Belarus
House of Government

Just next to the EU border, Belarus seems to be the perfect getaway for a nice vacation. Yet, the member states of the European Union have not given enough attention to the excessive control the government continues to exert over its civil society. An appeal for more action.

When surfing to the website www.belarus.by, the following text is drawing the internet users’ attention: “Start here for your complete introduction to the republic of Belarus, a fascinating country with a rich cultural heritage and extraordinary landscapes”. The Belarusian webpage looks modern, user-friendly and colorful. The country seems the perfect getaway for a nice vacation, just next to the EU border.

Continuing surfing on the web, the 2009 Amnesty International Report of Belarus illuminates a quiet different angle: “The government continued to exert excessive control over civil society. State control over the media increased, and restrictions on independent media continued. Some public events were banned; peaceful demonstrators were fined and detained for short periods; and civil society activists and journalists were harassed. Belarus continued to hand down death sentences and execute prisoners.” How is it possible that the European Union, as standard-baerer for fundamental freedoms and human rights, tolerates these severe infringements in her back yard?

Continuing surfing on the web, the 2009 Amnesty International Report of Belarus illuminates a quiet different angle: “The government continued to exert excessive control over civil society..."

By gagging statutes in 125 cities in 50 countries in Europe and the world, the Young European Federalists have shown their solidarity with the silenced Belarusian citizens. JEFfers are outraged by the violations of basic human freedoms, as they are displeased by the European policy towards Belarus.

As involved and progressive youngsters, we want the European Union we believe in to put as much pressure as possible on the Belarusian government and authorities. The EU should support civil society and stimulate a process of bottom-up democratization. In the past, conditionality as a mechanism for regime change has been proven non- or even contraproductive. Stimulating this regime change by supporting the critical mass and allowing their voices to be heard seems the best strategy for the EU.

Only a coherent Belarus-Policy will be efficient enough to release the people of Belarus from the dictatorial grip.

Besides support to local NGO’s, the international community needs to monitor the next general elections, guaranteeing freedom of press and political opninion. It is furthermore high time that the suspension of sanctions on Lukashenko and his officials were lifted. JEF urges the European Commission Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to foster greater co-operation between Member States and European institutions. Only a coherent Belarus-Policy will be efficient enough to release the people of Belarus from the dictatorial grip. Patrick Gilroy of the University of Düsseldorf puts it like this in the March 2009 papers: “A sustained EU engagement for Belarus has good chances of assisiting […] a Belarus ultimately anchored in the club of European democracies”.

Keywords

Your comments

pre-moderation

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on gravatar.com (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom