Procedure : 2021/2881(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0494/2021

Texts tabled :

B9-0494/2021

Debates :

PV 05/10/2021 - 5
CRE 05/10/2021 - 5

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2021)0420

<Date>{04/10/2021}4.10.2021</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0494/2021</NoDocSe>
PDF 157kWORD 53k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>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</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on the situation in Belarus after one year of protests and their violent repression</Titre>

<DocRef>(2021/2881(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Petras Auštrevičius, Malik Azmani, Nicola Beer, Dita Charanzová, Olivier Chastel, Nathalie Loiseau, Javier Nart, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Ramona Strugariu, Dragoş Tudorache, Hilde Vautmans</Depute>

<Commission>{Renew}on behalf of the Renew Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0482/2021

B9‑0494/2021

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Belarus after one year of protests and their violent repression

(2021/2881(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus,

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

 having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Belarus of 21 June 2021,

 having regard to the 2021 State of the Union address by President von der Leyen,

 having regard to the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Josep Borrell, of 15 July 2021 on the crackdown against civil society in Belarus, and to his declarations on behalf of the EU of 30 July 2021 on the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the regime and of 8 August 2021 on the first anniversary of the 9 August 2020 fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus,

 having regard to the statements by the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson of 7 July 2021 on limiting the diplomatic presence of Lithuania and of 30 August 2021 on the repressions against journalists and media,

 having regard to the report of 5 July 2021 of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anaïs Marin, to the UN Human Rights Council,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all human rights conventions to which Belarus is a party,

 having regard to the awarding of the European Parliament’s 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition in Belarus,

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

A. whereas more than one year after the so-called 9 August 2020 elections, the Belarusian authorities are continuing their repression against the Belarusian people, with many citizens being harassed, arrested, tortured and convicted for expressing opposition to the regime or to the widespread human rights violations taking place in Belarus;

B. whereas more than 35 000 Belarusians are estimated to have been detained at some point for protesting against the regime; whereas human rights defenders have documented hundreds of cases of torture and ill-treatment, while several people are still missing or have been found dead; whereas inhumane treatment, torture and deliberate refusals to provide medical care continue to take place in Belarusian detention centres and prisons, where several protesters have died; whereas there are over 670 political prisoners in Belarus; whereas thousands of Belarusians affected by political repression have fled to neighbouring countries to avoid further persecution;

C. whereas the Belarusian regime is running a repression campaign against civil society and human rights defenders aiming to silence all remaining independent voices in Belarus; whereas close to 250 civil society organisations have been liquidated or are in the process of being liquidated, including the Human Rights Center Viasna, which suffered an unprecedented crackdown through the arrest and charging of its leadership, staff members and volunteers, including Ales Bialiatski, the Chair of Viasna; Valiantsin Stefanovich, member of the Viasna Board and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights; Marfa Rabkova, the coordinator of Viasna’s network of volunteers; Andrei Chepyuk; Leanid Sudalenka; Tatsyana Lasitsa; Maryia Tarasenka; Uladzimir Labkovich; and other Viasna staff members and volunteers;

D. whereas on 6 September 2021, the Belarusian opposition leaders and political prisoners Maria Kalesnikava, a laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and recipient of the International Women of Courage Award, and prominent lawyer Maksim Znak, were sentenced to 11 years and 10 years respectively for allegedly plotting a coup;

E. whereas almost 500 journalists have been arrested and the Belarusian authorities are continuing their crackdown on and harassment of independent Belarusian journalists and are engaging in deliberate attempts to hamper objective reporting; whereas on 27 August 2021, the Belarusian regime ordered the closure of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the largest independent journalist organisation in the country, which was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2004;

F. whereas on 23 May 2021, Ryanair flight FR4978, an international passenger flight between two EU capitals (Athens to Vilnius), was forcefully diverted to Minsk on the orders of Aliaksandr Lukashenka on the false pretence of a bomb threat, in breach of international conventions and jeopardising the safety of the more than 170 passengers and crew on board; whereas in Minsk, the Belarusian authorities detained passenger Raman Pratasevich, a Belarusian journalist and activist, and his companion Sofia Sapega;

G. whereas in retaliation against the EU sanctions imposed in response to the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978, Lukashenka publicly threatened to flood the EU, notably neighbouring Lithuania and Poland, with migrants and drugs; whereas this threat was backed by Russia and implemented by instrumentalising migrants for political purposes: whereas a scheme was created to bring migrants to Minsk via flights from Iraq and Turkey and have Belarusian border guards facilitate their illegal crossing into the European Union, leading to around 4 000 illegal migrants entering Lithuania, over 1 400 entering Poland and around 400 entering Latvia; whereas Poland, Latvia and Lithuania were forced to declare a state of emergency on their border with Belarus; whereas the number of irregular entries to the EU has reduced, but attempts to cross illegally continue; whereas from 13-19 September 2021, 2 101 attempts to cross the EU border were prevented (1 830 by Poland, 135 by Lithuania and 136 by Latvia); whereas the Belarusian regime commits violence against migrants, uses force to push them into EU territory and creates propaganda and disinformation accusing the EU Member States of violating migrants’ rights and facilitating illegal migration to Belarus; whereas at least four irregular migrants have died from hypothermia and exhaustion and several migrants have been stranded for weeks at Belarus’s borders, unable to get help, claim asylum or access basic services;

H. whereas after criticising her coaches, Belarusian athlete Krystina Timanovskaya was forced to leave the Tokyo Olympics early, and, due to fears for her safety, sought police protection at Tokyo Airport and accepted a humanitarian visa provided by Poland; whereas the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expelled Belarusian coaches Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich from the Tokyo Olympics and opened an investigation;

I. whereas in her State of the Union address of 15 September 2021, the Commission President called the instrumentalisation of migrants a hybrid attack by Belarus aimed at destabilising the EU;

J. whereas on 17 September 2021, the Belarusian Prosecutor-General’s Office suspended an investigation into the death of Raman Bandarenka;

K. whereas on 3 August 2021, Vitaly Shishov, a founder of the Belarusian House in Ukraine, a group helping people who have left Belarus, was found hanged in a park in Kyiv;

L. whereas in an already tense climate, in September 2021 Russia and Belarus held the massive Zapad 2021 joint military exercise involving 200 000 personnel, putting further pressure on the EU’s borders; whereas Lukashenka has announced plans to acquire USD 1 billion worth of weapons from Russia by 2025, including S-400 missile systems;

M. whereas on 9 September 2021, the leaders of Russia and Belarus also agreed to set up a unified oil and gas market and to deepen economic integration, increasing the risk that Lukashenka will continue to trade off Belarus’s sovereignty in exchange for more support from Russia;

N. whereas on 28 June 2021, Belarus suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership initiative;

O. whereas over the past year, the Lukashenka regime has ordered several EU and Member State diplomats and embassy staff to leave the country, closing even more diplomatic channels of communication;

P. whereas the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to give Belarus access to nearly USD 1 billion in new Special Drawing Rights as part of a broader USD 650 billion allocation to all IMF members;

Q. whereas Belarus started the commercial operation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravyets without addressing all the safety recommendations contained in the 2018 EU stress test report; whereas information about serious incidents at the Belarusian nuclear power plant (NPP) keeps being reported in the Belarusian media and whereas on 25 April 2021 an alarming message (‘The nuclear power plant is posing a danger! A disaster may strike at any moment!’) appeared on the official website of the Belarusian NPP; whereas the Belarusian side is not transparent and does not provide trustworthy information about events at the NPP site, reconfirming that the Belarusian NPP is unsafe and poses a serious nuclear safety threat;

R. whereas the European Union has so far imposed sanctions against 166 persons and 15 entities, including Aliaksandr Lukashenka, as well as targeted economic sanctions against several sectors of the Belarusian economy; whereas in 2020, the Belarusian economy recorded a real GDP decline amounting to 0.9 %, and whereas prognoses for 2021 estimate a further GDP decline of 2.7 %; whereas China continues to cooperate with and invest in Belarus, particularly in the China-Belarus Great Stone Industrial Park;

1. Recalls that the European Union and its Member States did not recognise the results of the 2020 presidential elections due to substantial doubts about the fairness of the election and widespread reports of falsification and do not recognise Aliaksandr Lukashenka as the president of Belarus;

2. Continues to condemn the repression, torture and ill-treatment of the peaceful people of Belarus, the suppression of the media and the internet, and the beating, arrest and intimidation of journalists, bloggers and other independent voices in Belarus; continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release and dropping of all charges against all persons detained for political reasons;

3. Condemns the harsh and unjust court sentences recently given out to opposition leaders Maria Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak and other political prisoners and detainees; deplores the fact that the court hearings were held behind closed doors and that EU and Member State diplomats were prevented from attending;

4. Continues to condemn the authorities’ reprisals against the Human Rights Center Viasna and calls for the immediate and unconditional release and dropping of all charges against Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chepyuk, Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsyana Lasitsa, Maryia Tarasenka, Uladzimir Labkovich and other Viasna staff and volunteers;

5. Condemns the behaviour of Belarusian coaches Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich at the Tokyo Olympics; recalls the prosecutions of Belarusian sportspeople for their participation in peaceful protests and the alleged ties between the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation and the murder of Raman Bandarenka; calls on the IOC and other international sports committees and federations to follow their codes of ethics and conduct when engaging with the Belarusian side;

6. Reiterates its call on the EEAS, the Commission and the EU Member States’ national diplomatic representations in Belarus to closely monitor the situation of individual political prisoners in Belarus, to offer them support and to work to secure their release;

7. Reiterates its call for a genuine, inclusive dialogue between the regime and the democratic forces of Belarus leading to new elections under international observation, which is the only way out of the current political crisis;

8. Condemns the Lukashenka regime’s instrumentalisation of migrants to advance political goals in breach of international norms and Belarus’s bilateral treaties with its EU neighbours; considers the hijacking and forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 in Minsk to be an act of state terrorism;

9. Welcomes the support provided by the Member States, Norway and the EU institutions and agencies, notably Europol, Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office, to the Member States affected by the migratory crisis created by the Belarusian regime and encourages them to continue this support, including by allocating further EU emergency aid; calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to help migrants stuck on the border with Belarus and to provide them with the necessary support;

10. Calls on the Commission to urgently table targeted legislative proposals providing Member States with the necessary safeguards to swiftly and effectively react and respond to illegal migration instrumentalisation campaigns by non-EU countries, in particular by ensuring strong and effective protection of the EU’s external borders and by providing effective measures to prevent irregular crossings;

11. Calls on the Member States to improve their cooperation on border management, the fight against human trafficking, cigarette smuggling and other security challenges created or aggravated by the Belarusian regime;

12. Deplores the continuous dealings between Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin to prepare road maps for greater integration between Belarus and Russia and sees it as a violation of the sovereignty of Belarus, as the Belarusian people are being deprived of their right to determine the future of their country; highlights the illegality of Lukashenka’s rule and rejects all agreements made by Lukashenka on behalf of the Belarusian State, notably after the expiry of his presidential term on 5 November 2020;

13. Supports the Commission proposal to suspend certain articles of the EU’s Visa Facilitation Agreement with the Republic of Belarus targeting specific categories of officials linked to the Lukashenka regime, with no impact on ordinary citizens of Belarus; urges the Council to proceed with the fifth package of sanctions with the utmost urgency by focusing on individuals and entities involved in the crackdown and repression in Belarus and on individuals and entities involved in human trafficking, and to initiative work on a future package;

14. Calls on the Member States to collectively declare Belarussian Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) officials on the soil of the European Union persona non grata;

15. Regrets that the imposed economic sanctions have only had a partial effect on the Lukashenka regime and have not significantly affected important sectors such as the potash and petroleum products sectors; calls on the Council to further strengthen the EU’s targeted economic sanctions, focusing on key Belarusian economic sectors and public and private companies that support and fund the Lukashenka regime; welcomes the additional sanctions imposed by the US, UK and Canada on the first anniversary of Belarus’s fraudulent presidential elections; calls, therefore, for the EU to coordinate its measures with the United States, the G7 partners and other like-minded democracies;

16. Calls on the Member States to coordinate with international partners in multilateral organisations such as the IMF to restrict the disbursement of funds to the Lukashenka regime and freeze all cooperation with it; takes note of the continuous investments by non-democratic countries, notably Russia and China, in Belarus;

17. Continues to support the Belarusian people in their legitimate demands and aspirations for free and fair elections, fundamental freedoms and human rights, democratic representation, and political participation in a free and sovereign Belarus;

18. Recognises and commends the work of the Belarusian democratic forces led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in raising global awareness and support for the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Belarusian people;

19. Reiterates its call on the Commission and the VP/HR to organise, together with international partners, a high-level ‘Future of Democratic Belarus’ international conference on the resolution of the crisis in Belarus and the pledging of a multi-billion euro financial package to support future reform efforts and the restructuring of the Belarusian economy;

20. Underlines the need for a comprehensive investigation into the crimes committed by the Lukashenka regime against the people of Belarus, including the murder of Raman Bandarenka and of other Belarusian citizens; awaits the results of the Ukrainian authorities’ investigation into the death of Vitaly Shishov;

21. Calls on the EU Member States to actively apply the universal jurisdiction principle and prepare court cases against Belarusian perpetrators of repression;

22. Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the EU Member States to increase the direct support to the Belarusian opposition, civil society and independent media organisations inside and outside of Belarus;

23. Highlights the tremendous importance of the establishment of people’s embassies of Belarus worldwide and urges the Commission and the Member States to provide further support to protect the rights and interests of Belarusian citizens abroad and the interests of a democratic Belarus, e.g. by exploring ways to fund the people’s embassies of Belarus;

24. Encourages the Member States to further simplify the procedures for obtaining visas and residence for those fleeing Belarus for political reasons or for those who require medical treatment as a result of violence perpetrated against them, and to offer them and their families the necessary support and assistance;

25. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to offer scholarships to Belarusian students and scholars expelled from universities and imprisoned for their pro-democratic stance;

26. Continues to support the International Accountability Platform for Belarus and calls on the EU institutions and Member States to support its functioning, as well as that of other international initiatives holding perpetrators to account; commits to the effective functioning of the European Parliament’s Platform on the fight against impunity in Belarus and to coordinating a timely international reaction to developments in Belarus;

27. Deplores the expulsion of EU and Member State diplomats from Belarus, notably the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus and ambassadors and diplomats from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland; invites the Member States to recall for consultation their ambassadors from Minsk as a political signal to the Lukashenka regime; urges the EEAS to review its working methods and ensure an active role for the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus currently recalled to Brussels and to take additional measures to ensure a safe working environment for EU diplomats and EU delegation staff in Minsk, particularly protection against propaganda attacks by the Lukashenka regime;

28. Notes the aggressive Zapad 2021 military exercise and the poor opportunities to observe it; reiterates its call for EU strategic autonomy and a genuine European Defence Union as part of a strengthened NATO;

29. Stresses the importance of addressing the nuclear safety threats posed by the Belarusian NPP in Astravyets; insists that Belarus engage on the nuclear safety of the Belarusian NPP in complete transparency and commit to the full implementation of the recommendations made in the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group peer review of the plant; supports, until that is the case, the banning of imports of energy from the Belarusian NPP into the EU market and the reflection of this position in the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism;

30. 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.

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