Motion for a resolution - B9-0328/2021Motion for a resolution

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the systematic repression in Belarus and its consequences for European security following abductions from an EU civilian plane intercepted by the Belarusian authorities

    7.6.2021 - (2021/2741(RSP))

    to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission
    pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

    Sandra Kalniete, Michael Gahler, Paulo Rangel, David McAllister, Jerzy Buzek, Andrius Kubilius, Radosław Sikorski, Traian Băsescu, Vladimír Bilčík, Tomasz Frankowski, Andrzej Halicki, Rasa Juknevičienė, David Lega, Miriam Lexmann, Antonio López‑Istúriz White, Liudas Mažylis, Luděk Niedermayer, Janina Ochojska, Michaela Šojdrová, Eugen Tomac, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima
    on behalf of the PPE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0328/2021

    Procedure : 2021/2741(RSP)
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    European Parliament resolution on the systematic repression in Belarus and its consequences for European security following abductions from an EU civilian plane intercepted by the Belarusian authorities


    The European Parliament,

     having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus,

     having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 October 2020 on Belarus,

     having regard to the declaration by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU of 24 May 2021 on the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021,

     having regard to the European Council conclusions of 24 May 2021 on Belarus,

     having regard to the joint statement by the G7 foreign ministers and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 27 May 2021 on Belarus,

     having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/908 of 4 June 2021 amending Decision 2012/642/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus[1], whereby it introduced a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds,

     having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas on Sunday 23 May 2021, the Belarusian authorities, using the false pretences of a bomb threat, intercepted Ryanair flight FR4978 with the involvement of a Belarusian Air Force MiG-29 fighter plane and diverted it to force an emergency landing;

    B. whereas the Belarusian authorities did not discover any explosive devices, but arrested two passengers – Raman Pratasevich, a Belarusian national, and his companion Sofia Sapega, a Russian national and student of the European Humanities University in Vilnius;

    C. whereas Raman Pratasevich is a Belarusian journalist and blogger and one of the founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, which played a pivotal role in mobilising protests in Belarus after the falsified presidential elections of 9 August 2020; whereas Raman Pratasevich was permanently residing in exile in Poland and Lithuania in order to avoid being arrested in Belarus on the basis of fabricated charges against him; whereas Raman Pratasevich was put on the terrorist watch list by the Belarusian authorities and may now face capital punishment, as Belarus remains the only country in Europe to enforce the death penalty;

    D. whereas three other passengers did not board flight FR4978 after the forced landing in Minsk;

    E. whereas both Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega were paraded on Belarusian mass media on Monday 24 May; whereas Raman Pratasevich declared that he was in good health and being treated well and confessed to playing a role in organising mass protests in Minsk last year; whereas Raman Pratasevich was wearing a thick layer of make-up possibly to cover up bruises inflicted on him by representatives of the Belarusian security services following his arrest; whereas Raman Pratasevich gave an interview to the state channel ONT on Wednesday 2 June in which he made further ‘confessions’; whereas as with his previous media appearance, Raman Pratasevich did not look like a person making a confession out of his own free will; whereas his lawyers are still denied access to him;

    F. whereas the forced landing of flight FR4978 imperilled the lives of 171 other passengers and crew members, many of whom were EU citizens;

    G. whereas the forced landing of flight FR4978 was in breach of many international legal standards, including the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and the Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation;

    H. whereas there are more than 400 recognised political prisoners in Belarus, including seven minors; whereas since the protests following the stolen presidential elections of 9 August 2020, 35 000 people have been jailed, some 3 000 politically motivated criminal cases have been opened against protestors, and more than 4 600 claims of torture, violence and ill-treatment have emerged;

    I. whereas the Belarusian regime systemically violates the human rights and freedoms of its people; whereas the overall democracy and rule of law situation in the country has significantly deteriorated since the run-up to, the holding of, and the aftermath of the presidential elections of 9 August 2020;

    J. whereas the closure of independent media outlets in Belarus, intensified arrests of journalists, students, trade union workers, civil society and political party activists, the fabrication of their cases in the so-called ‘courts’, the intimidation, torture and labelling of political prisoners with yellow badges, and assaults on innocent citizens on the street and in their homes qualifies as systemic state terror;

    K. whereas the number of fatal victims of the Belarusian regime is increasing at an alarming rate, with the recent attempts by detainees to commit suicide after experiencing physical and mental torture while in prison;

    L. whereas the forced landing of flight FR4978 and the arrest of an enemy of the Belarusian regime was designed to send a chilling signal to all of its opponents, in particular those living abroad, that the regime is determined to hunt them down and that they are not safe abroad;

    1. Condemns the hijacking and forced landing of flight FR4978 by the Belarusian authorities; considers this horrendous act a violation of international law which constitutes an act of state terrorism;

    2. Demands the immediate and unconditional release of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega; reiterates its previous demands to release all other political prisoners held by the Belarusian authorities;

    3. Deplores the sentencing of Pavel Sevyarynets, Yauhen Afnahel, Andrei Voynich, Pavel Yukhnevich, Zmitser Kazlou, Maksim Vinyarski and Iryna Shchasnaya in a closed trial in the city of Mahilyou;

    4. Urges the Belarusian authorities to cease all forms of ill-treatment and torture against detainees and political prisoners and to enable them to access medical treatment and legal advice;

    5. Reiterates its non-recognition of the election of Alyaksandr Lukashenka to the post of President of Belarus; considers the current regime in Belarus as illegitimate, illegal and criminal; condemns the crackdown on the thousands of Belarusians who peacefully protested in defence of their right to freedom, democracy and dignity;

    6. Condemns the regime’s systemic attacks against civilians, which since the stolen elections in August 2020 have forced 14 000 Belarusians to flee the country, through violence, intimidation and other forms of coercion; reiterates that this ongoing campaign of repression and the forced displacement of civilians amounts to grave violations of human rights;

    7. Underlines that the current situation is a test of the credibility of the European Union and the effectiveness of our foreign policymaking; recalls that the situation in Belarus, a neighbouring country and member of the Eastern Partnership, has a direct impact on the EU and that the EU should show sufficient determination to offer tangible and long‑term support to democratic forces that strive to bring freedom and democracy to Belarus;

    8. Reiterates that the EU should further address the human rights situation in Belarus by mobilising the international community in support of the Belarusian people, including through the UN Human Rights Council, the OSCE and the Council of Europe;

    9. Stresses that freedom of speech and the freedom to protest, independence of mass media, the right to a fair trial, and respect for human rights in general are overarching values that lie at the very basis of democratic societies and of the European Union; deplores the fact that Belarus is currently the only country in Europe to still enforce the death penalty;

    10. Stresses that in order to defeat authoritarian regimes such as Lukashenka’s Belarus and Putin’s Russia and promote democratic values in the region, the European Union and its Member States should firmly support enhanced cooperation with the associated countries from the Eastern Partnership (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine); highlights that creating a strong democratic space at the eastern European border and concrete examples of a successful democratic transformation could benefit both the security and prosperity of our citizens and the democratisation of Belarus and the Russian Federation;

    11. Strongly supports the idea of initiating a high-level political conference on the resolution of the crisis in Belarus, which should be held without delay; reiterates its previous call, supported by the vast majority of its Members and political groups, urging the President and Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament to initiate a high-level mission involving former high-ranking European officials to explore every possible avenue to stop the violence and free political prisoners, which could help to create an environment conducive to an inclusive domestic political dialogue in Belarus;

    12. Calls on the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the International Civil Aviation Organization to conduct an urgent investigation into this unprecedented act of state terrorism against an EU-registered civilian aircraft in order to assess whether air transport and passenger safety were put in jeopardy; highlights that this grave incident significantly breached trust and that every state will act responsibly in fulfilling their obligations under the Chicago Convention so that aircraft can operate safely and securely; stresses that such an investigation should explore the possibility that Russian nationals played a part in the terrorist acts perpetrated by the Belarusian regime; underlines that if this is deemed to have been the case, any Russian national directly or indirectly involved in the operation should be sanctioned under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EU Magnitsky Act);

    13. Highlights the importance of the EU’s contribution to the investigation, including through involvement of EU bodies such as Europol, Eurojust or the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in the work of joint investigation teams and operations;

    14. Calls on Interpol to thoroughly review requests for Red Notices made by Belarus and to take appropriate measures to prevent Belarus from misusing Interpol for political purposes;

    15. Welcomes the overwhelmingly positive response of EU air carriers to avoid or try to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace; deplores the fact that in some cases they are hampered in doing so by Russian air traffic control; welcomes the closure of EU airspace to Belarusian air carriers; stresses that the EU’s ban on the use of EU airspace by Belarusian air carriers should remain in force until all political prisoners have been released, including Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega; underlines the need for the EU to introduce its anticipated fourth package of sanctions, which should be more ambitious and targeted; advises that sectoral sanctions should be introduced and include a ban on imports of oil products, potash fertilisers, metal products, wood and wood products; underscores the urgent need to sanction all relevant state-run enterprises helping to support the regime through foreign exchange revenue; highlights the importance of stepping up the fight against the business of cigarette smuggling from Belarus, which has become a very serious source of revenue for the Belarusian regime;

    16. Considers that the list of sanctioned individuals who have been banned from entering the EU and whose assets have been frozen needs to be substantially enlarged and include all those linked to state repression, but also those who are propping up the regime and providing it with economic support or any other kind of assistance, such as the regime journalist Marat Markau, who interviewed Raman Pratasevich on the state channel ONT on 2 June 2021; recalls, in this regard, the need to take full advantage of the options for restrictive measures under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EU Magnitsky Act); advises the Member States to consider expelling Belarusian diplomatic personnel, who are known operatives of the Belarusian secret services;

    17. Underlines that all punitive measures against Belarus should be coordinated and introduced together with partners from G7 and other like-minded partners; welcomes the upcoming EU-US and US-Russia summits and considers them important opportunities to coordinate positions between the EU and its partners; reminds President Putin of the consequences of further supporting the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka; highlights, in this context, the importance of introducing further sanctions against the Russian Federation for its role in supporting the Belarusian regime;

    18. Points out the moral and political responsibility of political parties in the EU that willingly profit from financial resources provided by the Russian Federation in exchange for political and other types of support offered in the European Parliament and elsewhere for Russian policies and aims to the detriment of EU interests and values;

    19. Calls for the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute the crimes of the Belarusian regime and Alyaksandr Lukashenka in particular for waging a war on the citizens of Belarus; invites the EU to take the necessary action, including by utilising EU platforms to seek justice and fight impunity, such as the European Parliament Impunity Platform, the EU Justice Hub and universal jurisdiction networks;

    20. Underlines the EU’s continued commitment to a democratic Belarus; welcomes the Commission’s outline of its EUR 3 billion economic support package for a future democratic Belarus; notes that the EU needs to propose a comprehensive set of actions to prepare the democratic forces of Belarus for the implementation of this package; highlights that this package delivers the important message that the EU will be ready to provide tangible and multifaceted assistance to a democratic Belarus, and to put the country on a path of reform and modernisation; underscores the importance for the EU to prepare for an ambitious bilateral agreement to embrace democratic change in Belarus;

    21. Reiterates the importance of the independent Belarusian media and journalists and the important role they play in Belarusian society; calls, in this regard, on the EU and other international organisations to provide financial and technical support to all independent media outlets and journalists to enable them to carry out their duties of informing society about the ongoing developments in Belarus; reiterates, in this regard, its call for increased assistance for the Bielsat TV channel;

    22. Reiterates its previous calls to extend assistance to Belarusian civil society, with a particular focus on those who find refuge in the EU and continue their struggle from there; calls on the Member States to provide these individuals with personal protection and opportunities to focus on their civic work by facilitating the obtainment of visas and simplifying residence rules, and to offer support, including financial support, to exiled institutions, such as the European Humanities University in Vilnius, which are nurturing a new generation of Belarusians challenging their corrupt and illegitimate system;

    23. Calls for Belarus to be expelled from international sporting bodies, including the International Olympic Committee; urges the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to remove broadcasting rights for the EURO 2020 football tournament from Belarusian state television TVR and assign them to the independent Bielsat TV free of charge;

    24. Reiterates the need for all Member States to take a unified position in responding to state terrorism orchestrated by the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and supported by the Kremlin; expresses its concern about the actions of the caretaker government in Bulgaria appointed by the President with regard to the dismissal of high-level security officers involved in uncovering Russian espionage networks acting in the EU;

    25. Underlines the importance for the EU to counter disinformation on the situation in Belarus within the EU, as well as other forms of hybrid threats undertaken by third parties in this regard;

    26. Expresses solidarity with Latvia following the unjustified expulsion of its diplomats by Belarus; condemns the launch of a criminal investigation by the Belarusian Prosecutor General against the Foreign Minister of Latvia, as well as the Mayor of the capital city Riga;

    27. Strongly condemns the acts of repression and hostile actions carried out by the authorities against representatives of the Polish minority and against the Polish school system in Belarus; calls, in this respect, for the unconditional release of Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut and other political prisoners;

    28. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the authorities of the Republic of Belarus.

    Last updated: 9 June 2021
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