MEPs say that Belarus’ progress in upholding democratic values is “insufficient” in a resolution voted on Thursday. They note that Belarus is taking new political prisoners, harassing the opposition, using capital punishment, and failing to address safety concerns about its first nuclear power plant, being built in Ostrovets.
MEPs stress that “since 1994 no free and fair elections have been conducted in Belarus” and that its attempts to make progress during 2015 presidential and 2016 parliamentary elections were insufficient. Key sectors of the Belarusian economy are still under state control, no new political party has been registered since 2000, new ways to harass or even jail the opposition are being found, they add.
The resolution calls on Belarus to stop these developments, reiterates the European Parliament’s commitment to support the pro-democratic aspirations of its people and calls on the European External Action Service and the EU Commission “to continue and strengthen support for civil society organisations in Belarus and abroad.”
Stop capital punishment
MEPs urge Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to “join a global moratorium on execution of the death penalty as a first step towards permanent abolition.” The Belarusian Supreme Court confirmed four death penalties in 2016, they note.
Nuclear safety concerns
MEPs are also concerned about the safety of building work at the first-ever Belarusian nuclear power plant, in Ostrovets, less than 50 km from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. They call for “international supervision of the implementation of this project”, to ensure it meets all nuclear and environment safety standards and urge the Council and the Commission to use their levers to press Belarus to conduct stress-tests on its nuclear site.
The resolution on Belarus was passed by 468 votes to 21, with 93 abstentions.
Procedure: Non-binding resolution