Political and Security Committee trip to Belarus (22/11/2016)
Minsk, 21 November 2016
On 21 November the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the Council of the European Union paid a visit to Belarus. The delegation was led by the Chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Walter Stevens. The delegation consisted of the PSC ambassadors of the 28 EU Member States and also included representatives of the European External Action Service and the European Commission.
The PSC delegation met the President of Belarus Alexandr Lukashenko, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alena Kupchyna. The PSC delegation also held an exchange of views with representatives of Belarusian political opposition, human rights defenders and members of civil society.
During the meetings, a broad spectre of issues was discussed, including bilateral cooperation between the EU and Belarus, multilateral cooperation in the Eastern Partnership framework, regional developments, the need for economic modernisation as well as human rights and democracy issues, including the death penalty.
In all its meetings, the EU delegation emphasized the European Union's readiness to maintain an open, yet critical, dialogue with Belarus.
The positive trend in EU-Belarus relations was welcomed. The EU is open to further development of EU-Belarus relations and to taking further steps to enhance EU engagement and sectoral cooperation but underlined that relations should be based on common values, especially respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law as well as with regard to the issue of the death penalty. Therefore, tangible steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, rule of law and human rights will remain key for the shaping of the EU's future policy towards Belarus.
The PSC is composed of EU member states' ambassadors based in Brussels. It is a permanent structure of the Council of the European Union. The mission of the PSC is to monitor the international situation in the areas covered by the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and to prepare the decisions of the Council of EU Ministers. The Committee plays a key role in the EU's foreign and security policy and the political dialogue.