Procedure : 2016/2934(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-1240/2016

Texts tabled :

B8-1240/2016

Debates :

Votes :

PV 24/11/2016 - 8.13
CRE 24/11/2016 - 8.13
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2016)0456

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 259kWORD 63k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-1232/2016
16.11.2016
PE593.672v01-00
 
B8-1240/2016

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the situation in Belarus (2016/2934(RSP))


Charles Tannock, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Mark Demesmaeker, Ryszard Czarnecki, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Tomasz Piotr Poręba, Angel Dzhambazki, Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski, Marek Jurek on behalf of the ECR Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Belarus (2016/2934(RSP))  
B8-1240/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions and recommendations on Belarus,

–  having regard to the parliamentary elections held on 11 September 2016,

–  having regard to the statement by the Chair of its Delegation for relations with Belarus of 13 September 2016 on the recent parliamentary elections in Belarus,

–  having regard to the statement by the European External Action Service spokesperson of 12 September 2016 on the parliamentary elections in Belarus,

–  having regard to the preliminary statement of the OSCE/ODIHR, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) of 12 September 2016 on parliamentary elections in Belarus,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Belarus, in particular those of 16 February 2016 lifting sanctions against 170 individuals and three Belarusian companies,

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of the US Department of State of 12 September 2016 on parliamentary elections in Belarus,

–  having regard to the numerous declarations by the Belarusian authorities that some of the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations following the 2015 presidential elections would be implemented ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas in its final report on the 2015 presidential elections in Belarus, the OSCE/ODIHR prepared a set of recommendations to be implemented by Belarus before the 2016 parliamentary elections;

B.  whereas, according to the assessment by the OSCE/ODIHR, the 2016 parliamentary elections were efficiently organised but a number of long-standing systemic shortcomings remain, including legal framework restrictions for political rights and fundamental freedoms;

C.  whereas substantial undemocratic laws and practices remain, rendering the whole election process untransparent and undemocratic; whereas this concerns mainly unusual early voting practices and lack of access for the opposition to the vote count (the representation of the opposition on the district electoral committees was only 0.08 %);

D.  whereas the only independent opinion poll institute in Belarus (NISEPI) suspended its activity as a result of pressure from the government, making it very difficult to assess what the real political preferences of Belarusians are;

E.  whereas since 1994 no free and fair elections have been conducted in Belarus under electoral legislation in compliance with OSCE/ODIHR internationally recognised standards;

F.  whereas despite some positive changes, Belarus remains a centralised and autocratic state under a ‘soft dictatorship’, where human rights violations continue to be systematically inflicted by state organs against dissenting or protesting individuals, where human rights defenders and journalists continue to be harassed and prevented from carrying out their duties properly, and where representatives of independent or foreign media lacking state-approved accreditation are often detained, prosecuted and/or fined;

G.  whereas the EU’s policy of ‘critical engagement’ is meant to encourage Belarus to improve its record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law; whereas the EU must make sure that its resources are not used to suppress civil society organisations, human rights defenders, freelance journalists and opposition leaders;

H.  whereas the first official visit of Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Belarus since 2002 took place in Minsk on 18 and 19 June 2015; whereas Parliament currently has no official relations with the Belarusian parliament;

I.  whereas a significant improvement in freedom of speech and freedom of the media, respect for the political rights of ordinary citizens and opposition activists alike and respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights are all prerequisites for better relations between the EU and Belarus; whereas the European Union remains strongly committed to further defending human rights in Belarus, including freedom of speech and of the media;

J.  whereas the elections were not followed by massive arrests like many others in the past; whereas, however, human rights organisations have drawn attention to the new methods of harassment of the opposition and to the arrests of Eduard Palchis and Uladzimir Kondrus in 2016;

1.  Remains deeply concerned by the shortcomings observed by independent international observers during the 2015 presidential and 2016 parliamentary elections; considers all the improvements noted to be motivated by the regime’s attempt to attract more financial aid from western countries; recalls, however, that Belarus is not a member of the WTO, but belongs to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU);

2.  Notes that the opposition will have two representatives in the newly elected parliament, but considers these to be political appointments rather than a reflection of the election results;

3.  Calls on the Belarusian authorities to resume work without delay on a comprehensive electoral reform as part of the broader democratisation process and in cooperation with international partners; stresses the need to introduce the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in due time before the municipal elections of March 2018; emphasises that this is key to achieving the full potential of EU-Belarus relations;

4.  Calls on the Belarusian Government to rehabilitate the released political prisoners and to restore their civil and political rights;

5.  Expresses its concern that since 2000 no new political party has been registered in Belarus; calls for a less restrictive approach on this issue;

6.  Calls on the European External Action Service and on the Commission to look for new ways of supporting civil society organisations in Belarus; stresses, in this regard, the need to support all independent sources of information for Belarusian society, including media broadcasting in the Belarusian language, and from abroad;

7.  Notes the launch in January 2014 of the negotiations on visa facilitation aimed at improving people-to-people contacts and encouraging the emergence of civil society; stresses the need to speed up the progress in this regard;

8.  Strongly condemns the policy of the Belarusian Government of using special forces to interfere in the internal affairs of civil society organisations, including those representing national minorities such as the independent NGO ‘Union of Poles in Belarus’;

9.  Reiterates its commitment to working for the benefit of the people of Belarus, supporting their pro-democratic aspirations and initiatives and contributing to a stable, democratic and prosperous future for the country;

10.  Notes, however, that admitting two opposition members to the parliament poses a challenge to the opposition, as the regime will try to use their presence to downplay the opposition’s requests for further changes;

11.  Is concerned at the ongoing construction of a nuclear power plant at Ostrovets in Grodno district, which, according to President Lukashenko, is supposed to be the ‘quickest built and cheapest’ installation of its kind; recalls that this plant is being constructed 50 km from the capital of Lithuania and close to the Polish border, without fulfilling the requirements of the Aarhus and Espoo Conventions; calls on the Commission to include the issue of this investment in its dialogue with Belarus and to secure guarantees that all security and control requirements will be fulfilled; is concerned that this investment, financed by Russia and using Russian technology, will lead to further dependence of Belarus on Russia when it comes to energy security;

12.  Underlines that Belarus is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and takes part in joint military manoeuvres with Russia; condemns, in this respect, the participation of the Belarusian army in the past aggressive ‘Zapad’ military exercises, and is concerned at the plans to hold a joint strategic exercise ‘Zapad-2017’; regrets the fact that Serbia has also hosted and participated in separate military exercises in cooperation with Russia and Belarus;

13.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), the European External Action Service, the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the OSCE/ODHIR, the Council of Europe and the Belarusian authorities.

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