Motion for a resolution - B7-0466/2012Motion for a resolution

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the elections in Belarus

    17.10.2012 - (2012/2815(RSP))

    to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
    pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

    José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Filip Kaczmarek, Elmar Brok, Krzysztof Lisek, Ioannis Kasoulides, Tunne Kelam, Rafał Trzaskowski, Elena Băsescu, Jacek Protasiewicz, Cristian Dan Preda, Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, Eduard Kukan, Monica Luisa Macovei, Marietta Giannakou, Inese Vaidere, Andrzej Grzyb, Daniel Caspary, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, Paweł Zalewski, Bogusław Sonik on behalf of the PPE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0463/2012

    Procedure : 2012/2815(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
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    European Parliament resolution on the elections in Belarus


    The European Parliament,

    –   having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus, in particular that of 5 of July 2012, of 29 March 2012[1], 16 February 2012[2], 15 September 2011[3], 12 May 2011[4], 10 March 2011[5], 20 January 2011[6], 10 March 2010[7] and 17 December 2009[8],

    –   having regard to the statement of 28 June 2012 by High Representative Catherine Ashton on the situation in Belarus,

    –   having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 1‑2 March 2012 expressing its deep concern over the further deterioration of the situation in Belarus,

    –   having regard to Council Decision 2012/126/CFSP of 28 February 2012 implementing Decision 2010/639/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Belarus[9],

    –   having regard to the Council conclusions on the launching of a European dialogue of modernisation with Belarusian society (3157th Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 23 March 2012,

    –   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 354/2012 of 23 April 2012 amending Regulation (EC) No 765/2006 concerning restrictive measures in respect of Belarus,

    –   having regard to Council conclusions on Belarus (3191st Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Luxembourg, 15 October 2012),

    –   having regard to the statement of 28 February 2012 by High Representative Catherine Ashton on her decision and that of the Polish Government to recall the head of the EU delegation in Minsk and the Polish ambassador to Belarus respectively,

    –   having regard to Council Decision 2012/36/CFSP of 23 January 2012 amending Decision 2010/639/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Belarus,

    –   having regard to Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1857 (2012) of 25 January 2012 on the situation in Belarus, which condemned the ongoing persecution of members of the opposition and the harassment of civil society activists, independent media and human rights defenders in Belarus,

    –   having regard to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 10 April 2012 and to Resolution 17/24 of the UN Human Rights Council of 17 June 2011 on the human rights situation in Belarus,

    –   having regard to the declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit adopted in Prague on 7‑9 May 2009 and the declaration on the situation in Belarus adopted at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw on 30 September 2011,

    –   having regard to the joint statement made by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Prague on 5 March 2012,

    –   having regard to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,

    –   having regard to the statement of 24 September by President Schulz, of 24 September by Vice-President Protasiewicz, Mr Brok and Mr Kaczmarek, of 25 September by Mr Vigenin and of 26 September by the Delegation for relations with Belarus, all on parliamentary elections in Belarus,

    –   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas the conduct and pluralistic aspect of the parliamentary elections which took place on the 23 September was seen by the EU as another opportunity for Belarus to demonstrate its respect for democratic values and European standards;

    B.  whereas, it is evident that with none of the democratic opposition candidates elected to the national parliament and with many political prisoners still in jail, the Belarusian authorities ignored the numerous calls of the international community, and deciding instead to take another step away from democracy and to further isolate their country;

    C. whereas opponents of authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko denounced the election as rigged and a farce, expressing its fears that President Lukashenko’s ‘flirt’ with democracy is over and calling on the EU and the US not to recognise the results of the election;

    D. whereas a large number of democratic opposition candidates were denied registration on the grounds of minor inaccuracies in their income and property statements or through the invalidation of ballot-access signatures; many of them were not allowed to be part of the electoral commissions;

    E.  whereas the candidates were entitled just to a five-minute speech on state-owned media; these messages had to be pre-recorded and airtime was refused to numerous candidates, especially those who called for boycotting of the election; in consequence a large number of candidates from the opposition parties were unable to communicate their position to the voters;

    F.  whereas many students and employees of state-owned companies were forced to early voting under the threat of loosing their scholarships and jobs; there was improper pressure on voters in the army to take part in early voting;

    G. whereas the OSCE Election Observation Mission was invited by the Belarusian authorities in order to observe elections without any restriction and limitations; the fact that two members of the mission, two Members of national Parliament from Germany and Lithuania, were denied entrance without any exhaustive explanation or clarification from the side of the Belarusian authorities just a week ahead of the parliamentary elections in Belarus cast doubts on the declared intentions of the Belarusian authorities and undermines the atmosphere of trust between the sides;

    H. whereas the EU welcomed the deployment of the OSCE/ODIHR observers and stressed the importance of guaranteeing those observers effective access to all stages of the electoral process, including the counting of votes, and underlined in particular the importance of guaranteeing the rights of the opposition as regards both the right to stand and access to electoral monitoring commissions and the media;

    I.   whereas according to the OSCE/ODIHR preliminary findings and conclusions, these elections were not competitive, and there were many cases where the Belarusian Electoral Code, which was supposed to increase campaigning opportunities, was violated; an election took place in a strictly controlled environment with a barely visible campaign and was marked by a lack of transparency in vote counting and in aggregating results from various polling stations;

    1.  Regrets that the conduct of parliamentary elections in Belarus has again fallen short of democratic standards; despite some minor improvements in the elections’ legal framework, leading for example to an increase in the number of candidates put forward by political parties, the Belarusian authorities failed to use this chance to conduct fair and transparent elections;

    2.  Believes that the parliament elected in Belarus falls short of democratic legitimacy and that the European Parliament will therefore continue its policy of not recognising it both in its bilateral relations with Belarus and within the framework of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly;

    3.  Points out that the EU hoped for an improvement in the organisation of the elections, the persistent failure to organise free and fair elections will be a further set-back for Belarus and will remain a serious challenge in conducting relations between Belarus and the European Union;

    4.  Condemns the detention of journalists obviously aimed at controlling the free flow of information by not letting them exercise their regular work duties and hence violating one of the most basic freedoms - the freedom of speech;

    5.  Calls on the Belarusian Government to confirm its statements about its willingness to improve cooperation with the EU and to create more favourable conditions for the commencement of discussions between the EU and Belarus;

    6.  Regrets the decision of the Belarusian authorities to repeatedly refuse entrance visas to Members of the European Parliament and national parliamentarians in the last couple of years; calls on the Belarusian authorities not to create any further obstacles preventing the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Belarus from visiting the country;

    7.  Urges the Belarusian authorities to review their actions, improve and upgrade the electoral legislation and conduct new free and fair parliamentary elections in line with international standards; also urges them to unconditionally release all the political prisoners, without coercing the latter into signing false confessions and pardon pleas, and to respect their own people by protecting the latter’s basic freedoms and by letting them enjoy their basic rights; expresses deep concern regarding the recurring reports of deliberately inflicted inhumane detention conditions, particularly as regards to Ales Bialiatski and Dzmitry Dashkevich;

    8.  Calls in this context on the Belarusian Government to move towards future genuinely democratic elections in accordance with international democratic standards by introducing changes to electoral law and practice, such as:

               (a) creating fair conditions and opportunities for all candidates to conduct a genuine electoral campaign;

               (b) ensuring that all parties participating in elections are represented at all election commission levels, in particular at precinct commission level;

               (c) ensuring that votes cast preclude any doubts as to the possibility of fraud in this connection;

               (d) abolishing the early-voting procedure or, at least, guaranteeing that early votes cast are subject to a separate procedure from that for ordinary votes cast and that early-voting results are recorded separately in electoral protocols;

               (e) ensuring transparency during the counting process and the publishing of all final results;

    9.  Urges the Belarusian Government to respect human rights in order to end the country’s self-imposed isolation from the rest of Europe and in order for relations between the EU and Belarus to improve significantly :

               (a) refraining from threatening with criminal prosecution, including for avoiding military service in Belarus, against students expelled from universities for their civic stance and obliged to continue their studies abroad;

               (b) eliminating all obstacles that prevent proper registration of NGOs in Belarus;

               (c) improving the treatment of and respect for national minorities, including recognition of the legitimately elected body of the Union of Poles, culture, churches, the education system and the historical and material heritage;

               (d) introducing immediately a moratorium on the death penalty;

    10. Recalls that the European Union declared its readiness to renew its relationship with Belarus and its people within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy as soon as the Belarusian Government demonstrated respect for democratic values and for the basic rights of the Belarusian people;

    11. Welcomes the “European dialogue on modernisation with Belarusian society” on necessary reforms for the modernisation of Belarus and on the related potential development of relations with the EU as well as the related information campaign in Belarus; notes with satisfaction that the European Dialogue has helped to stimulate a constructive and substantial debate among representatives of Belarusian society in Minsk on concrete ideas on the reform needs of the country;

    12. Calls on the EEAS, the Council and the Commission to continue the dialogue with and devise a clearer policy vis-à-vis Belarus, subject to strict positive conditionality based on a gradual step-by-step approach, equipped with benchmarks, timetables, a revision clause and adequate financial resources;

    13. Calls on the Council and the Commission to consider a selective review and possible suspension of existing restrictive measures, with a view to providing advantages for ordinary citizens and promoting the development of a free society;

    14. Calls on the Council and the Commission not to lift the visa ban or the asset freeze on those directly involved in violating democratic election standards and human rights;

    15. Calls on the Council and the Commission to take further steps, unilaterally if necessary, towards the facilitation and liberalisation of visa procedures for Belarusian citizens, as such action is crucial to fulfil the main goal of EU policy towards Belarus, namely to facilitate and intensify people-to-people contacts and to democratise the country; urges them, in this context, to consider the scope for lowering the cost of visas for Belarusian citizens entering the Schengen Area, which is the only way to prevent Belarus and its citizens from becoming increasingly isolated;

    16. Deplores once more the foreign travel ban list drafted by the Belarus Government that forbids several opponents and human rights activists from leaving the country; expresses its sympathy to all the people included in this list and calls on the Minsk authorities to put an end to such practices that violate the fundamental freedoms of Belarus citizens;

    17. Reiterates its call on the Commission to support, with financial and political means, the efforts of Belarusian civil society, independent media (including TV Belsat, European Radio for Belarus, Radio Racja and others) and non-governmental organisations in Belarus to promote democracy;

    18. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, the Secretariat of the CIS and to president Alexander Lukashenko.