Friday, April 24, 2009

No Eastern Partner

The European Union is currently launching something called an "Eastern Partnership", which is designed to cement links with six neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus. Quite why Belarus has been included in the "reach-out" plan is something of a mystery. If Belarus accepts the invitation to attend the Eastern Partnership summit in Prague on May 7, this will grant the republic a legitimacy it clearly does not deserve, in view of the widespread repression that is still taking place within it. Now Maidan writes that one of the leaders of the Belarus opposition who is also Co-ordinator of Charter 97

has rejected an invitation to attend events connected with the EU Summit in Prague. He believes the invitation issued to Lukashenko to be a grave mistake. He names just three political prisoners - Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, Uladzimir Asipenka and says that the first has been on hunger strike for more than a week demanding an open trial.

“Political repressions go on in our country, many Belarusians have had to emigrate due to political persecution, the authorities refuse to register political parties and NGOs, peaceful demonstrations are brutally dispersed and banned, we do not enjoy even minimum freedom of speech, youth activists are unlawfully drafted for military service. The authorities don’t investigate the cases of kidnapped opposition leaders and a journalist although the international community suspects them of involvement to these crimes. I think inviting Dictator Lukashenko to Prague when demands to release political prisoners and stop political repressions have not been met was a great mistake.
That’s why I have taken the decision not to go to Prague.”

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