Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU policy towards Belarus

Delivered in Plenary - 12 September 2013

Mr President

Belarusís continued disregard for democratic government and the rule of law is of great concern to all of us. The elections last September in Belarus were clearly not free or fair. Nevertheless, the release of Siarhei Kavalenka is of course welcome, yet we must not allow this lone political gesture by Lukashenko to detract from the wider picture, which is one of political prisoners on a large scale. In calling for an end to restrictions on democratic opposition, judicial reforms, greater press freedom and an end to the discrimination of minorities, this report is valuable in highlighting some of the fundamental flaws in the regime.

As we look to the future, it can be hoped that Belarus will look to its near Baltic neighbours such as Lithuania, and the successful transition that these countries have made to democracy following the collapse of the Soviet Union. For those that doubt the possibility of such a future, we need only look to Poland and the democratic principles that it now proudly promotes as a member of the EU.