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Thursday, 22 May 2008 - Strasbourg OJ edition

The arrest of political opponents in Belarus (debate)

  Eugenijus Gentvilas (ALDE).(LT) When Alexander Lukashenko started to feel the pressure from Vladimir Putin over gas, he declared his desire for closer ties with the EU. However, today we can see that this was just empty rhetoric, which was not followed up with respect for human rights, freedom of the press and other European values. There was no reaction to the non-paper ‘What the EU could bring to Belarus’. Political arrests and repressions are continuing.

The EU should send its experts without delay to observe the preparations for the autumn parliamentary elections, to see how election laws are amended and whether the opposition is given a chance to act. We cannot limit it to election observation only. That would be a huge mistake. Of course, first of all we need to ensure that EU diplomats and parliamentarians are freely allowed to enter Belarus. The European Commission and the EU Member States should do everything in their power to achieve this.

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