EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Poilicy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, met on Wednesday morning with a representative of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Together with the other members of the Belarusian Presidium of the Coordination Council, Ms Tsikhanouskaya will receive the European Parliament’s 2020 Sakharov prize awarded to the Belarusian democratic opposition.
High Representative/Vice-President Borrell highlighted the Sakharov Prize as recognition of their courage, resilience and determination in promoting democracy and human rights in Belarus.
The High Representative/Vice-President and Ms Tsikhanouskaya exchanged assessments of the current situation in Belarus. Josep Borrell reiterated that the European Union, together with its international partners, continue to call for an end to detentions and violence toward peaceful protesters; for the release of all political prisoners and those unjustly detained; for prosecution of those who authorised and perpetrated acts of violence and inhumane treatment; and for free and fair elections under the observation of the OSCE. High Representative/Vice-President Borrell also underlined that the European Union has already sanctioned 55 individuals responsible for the violent repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists, as well as for misconduct of the electoral process, and is in the process of finalising additional sanctions, which will target both individuals and entities.
The High Representative/Vice-President underlined the EU’s commitment to support Belarusian civil society and independent media, as well as youth and small- and medium-sized enterprises, also in light of the coronavirus pandemic. He stressed that the EU fully supports the Belarusian people’s legitimate demands and highlighted the EU’s readiness to substantially step-up its engagement and support to a democratic Belarus once the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights are respected.
He also reiterated that the EU stands ready to support any credible mediation efforts, in particular within the OSCE framework. A genuine, inclusive national dialogue, including with the Coordination Council, is the only way forward to ensure a peaceful solution to the current crisis that fully respects the rights of the Belarusian people.