1386th Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (21 October 2020)
In line with the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Belarus, adopted on 12 October, the European Union reiterates its position that the presidential elections held in Belarus on 9 August were neither free nor fair. Alexander Lukashenko thus lacks any democratic legitimacy. The people of Belarus have continuously voiced their demand of holding new elections.
The EU reiterates its support to Belarus’ sovereignty and independence. We support the calls for new, free and fair presidential elections in Belarus, to be conducted without external interference, in full conformity with international standards and under OSCE/ODIHR observation.
The EU strongly condemns violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, including youth and women, and the numerous cases of torture and sexual violence. The fight against the impunity of those responsible for such violations is of utmost importance. We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners, journalists and media workers. We call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure respect for human rights, including the freedoms of expression online and offline, assembly and association, as well as the freedom of media.
The EU has imposed sanctions on 40 individuals responsible for the fraudulent nature of the presidential elections and for the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters. As the situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate, the 12 October Foreign Affairs Council has given its political green light to the preparation of the next set of sanctions, including against Alexander Lukashenko and other high-ranking officials.
We welcome the joint statement made on 13October by the Chair of the Committee of Ministers, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, inter alia condemning in the strongest terms the use of violence by the Belarusian authorities. We also welcome the recent adoption of a resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus by the UN Human Rights Council. We urge the Belarusian authorities to engage in cooperation with the OSCE Moscow Mechanism.
In light of the developments in Belarus, the EU has decided to scale down bilateral cooperation, including financial assistance to the Belarusian authorities at the central level while increasing its support to the Belarusian people and civil society. The EU assistance has already been made available immediately to victims of violence, civil society and independent media.
The EU stands ready to enhance its political engagement, sectoral cooperation and financial assistance to Belarus, provided that Belarusian authorities respect the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The EU calls on the Belarusian authorities to engage in an inclusive and meaningful national dialogue with broader society, in particular the Coordination Council, with a view to reaching a peaceful and democratic solution to the ongoing crisis. The EU stands ready to support a peaceful democratic transition, and, upon the request of the Belarusian Government, to offer the use of a variety of instruments in line with the Eastern Partnership policy.
The EU is convinced that a positive and important role can be played by the Council of Europe in assisting the Belarusians with emergence from this crisis and into a peaceful democratic transition. We highly appreciate that the Council of Europe stands ready to help Belarus on its way to genuine reforms and we encourage the Secretary General to maintain her active stance in this regard.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Ukraine