15.10.2012 / 16:15

EU Extends Sanctions Against Belarusian Authorities but Welcomes Negotiations 5

The European Union has extended the sanctions against the Belarusian officials until October 31, 2013. The correspondent decision was taken on October 15 at the 3191st EU Foreign Affairs Council Meeting in Luxembourg.

As not all political prisoners have been released and no released prisoner has been

rehabilitated, and against the background of the lack of improvement as regards the respect for

human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles, the Council decided to prolong the

existing restrictive measures until 31 October 2013. In this context, the Council recalls its

Conclusions of 23 March 2012 and reiterates that its policy on restrictive measures remains

open and under constant review, the council conclusion says.

The Council reiterates its calls for the immediate release and rehabilitation of all remaining

political prisoners. It notes the release of Syarhei Kavalenka as a positive signal, but regrets

that this was conditional on request for a Presidential pardon. The Council also remains deeply

concerned about decisions concerning additional prison sentences and continued reports of

mistreatment of political prisoners.

The Council again calls upon the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment of civil society,

the political opposition and the independent media. The Council urges the Belarusian

authorities to comply with the Human Rights Council Resolution 20/13, including to

implement all recommendations contained in the report of the UN High Commissioner for

Human Rights of April 2012 and to cooperate fully with the new UN Special Rapporteur on

Belarus.

The conclusion mentions that the EU remains committed to strengthening its engagement with Belarusian people and civil society.

It also states the readiness to to launch negotiations for visa facilitation and

readmission agreements which would enhance people-to-people contacts to the benefit of the

Belarusian population at large, and regrets the absence of response from the Belarusian

authorities to Commission's invitation in June 2011 to start negotiations.

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