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European Parliament publishes full text of critical resolution on Belarus
The European Parliament (EP) has published the full text of its critical resolution on Belarus that was adopted on March 29.
In the resolution, the EP said that it continued to strongly "condemn the deteriorating situation as regards human rights and fundamental freedoms, combined with the lack of deep democratic and economic reforms in Belarus, and will continue to oppose the repression of the regime’s opponents."
The EP deplored the execution of Dzmitry Kanavalaw and Uladzislaw Kavalyow, who were sentenced to death in last year's subway bombing trial, which it said happened "despite continuous domestic and international protests" and called on the Belarusian authorities to give the young men's bodies to the families for burial and immediately introduce a moratorium on capital punishment.
In addition, the document deplored the Belarusian authorities' move to bar several opponents and human rights activists from traveling abroad and expressed "sympathy" to the people hit by the travel ban, as well as urged Minsk to "put an end to such practices that violate the fundamental freedoms of Belarus citizens."
The EP welcomed the EU foreign ministers' February 28 and March 23 decisions to add more individuals to the list of Belarusians subject to an entry ban and asset freeze and blacklist certain economic entities "supporting the regime."
The resolution called on the EU Council to "take stock of the latest developments in EU-Belarus diplomatic relations and of the further deterioration in the situation regarding human rights and basic freedoms in the country and, on this basis, to adopt a decision concerning further restrictive measures, including targeted economic sanctions."
The resolution demanded the unconditional and immediate release of the political prisoners and warned that no progress would be made in the dialogue between Belarus and the EU until their release.
The resolution stressed that the decision to withdraw all the ambassadors of the EU member states from Belarus "proves that the Belarusian authorities’ attempts to divide the European Union over decisions on sanctions have failed."
The EP also condemned the offensive rhetoric of Alyaksandr Lukashenka toward the German foreign minister and urged the national ice hockey federations of the EU member states and other democracies to suggest that the 2014 world hockey championship be moved from Belarus until the authorities release the political prisoners and start respecting human rights.
The EP stressed that the European Union and Belarus should have "good neighbourly relations and that these should be strongly supported by EU close engagement with civil society and the democratic opposition in Belarus and its support for the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people."
The resolution urged the European Commission to support, with financial and political means, the efforts of Belarusian civil society, independent media and non-governmental organizations in Belarus to promote democracy.
The EP had been originally scheduled to vote on the resolution on March 15, but the vote was postponed with a view to giving the Belarusian authorities more time for possible steps to improve the situation.
The following day after the EP made the decision to postpone the vote, it became known that Messrs. Kanavalaw and Kavalyow had been executed after being denied clemency by Mr. Lukashenka, MEP Marek Migalski of Poland said ahead of the vote on Thursday. He said that he had warned that the Belarusian authorities would see the postponement of the vote as weakness on the part of the EP, noting that he had regretfully been right.
Another Polish MEP, EP Vice President Jacek Protasiewicz, who heads the Parliament's delegation for relations with Belarus, argued that the decision was not a sign of any weakness. Moreover, it is not known for sure when the two young men were executed, he said.
The EP was waiting for positive signals from Minsk, and it has to act resolutely now in the absence of any, Mr. Protasiewicz stressed. //BelaPAN