Members of European Parliament visit Minsk
Lithuanian MEP Laima Liucija Andrikiene, who initiated the visit, told reporters that they had come to see the situation in Belarus with their own eyes. She described the visit as brief, intensive and important.
According to her, within six hours, the delegation met with the ambassadors of EU member countries; Dzmitry Yermalyuk, head of the Belarusian foreign ministry’s European integration department; Uladzimir Serpikaw, director of the ministry’s European cooperation department; Zhanna Litvina, chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists; and opposition leaders, including Vintsuk Vyachorka, Pavel Sevyarynets and former presidential candidates Alyaksandr Milinkevich and Alyaksandr Kazulin.
British MEP Christopher Beazley, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that they had applied for meetings with Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynaw, but such meetings never took place. He added that the delegation had not planned to meet with members of the Belarusian parliament.
Polish MEP Jacek Protasiewicz, who chairs the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Belarus, declined to say whether it would be them who would recommend to reimpose or abolish altogether against Belarusian officials, which were suspended in the fall of 2008. There are two months left until the final decision is made, he noted.
He added that the matter is not limited to the sanctions but includes the possibility of Belarus’ involvement in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.
Given the current major economic crisis in the world, Europe and Belarus should cooperate but only on the basis of European values, Mr. Protasiewicz said, noting that this was the delegation’s main message to the Belarusian authorities.
He said that the EU has much goodwill, and that the EU wants to help its neighbor to overcome the hard times, but, according to him, goodwill should come not only from the EU but also from the Belarusians. “Help us find arguments to help you,” he said.