Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Belarusian opposition leaders participating in Euronest PAs session in Yerevan

By Syarhey Karalevich, BelaPAN

Leaders of seven Belarusian opposition organizations are participating in the fourth plenary session of the EU-Neighborhood East Parliamentary Assembly (Euronest PA), which began in Yerevan, Armenia, on Tuesday.

The Belarusian delegation includes Syarhey Kalyakin, chairperson of the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left; Iryna Veshtard, chairperson of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party; Alyaksandr Milinkevich, chairperson of the Movement for Freedom; Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, chairperson of the Tell the Truth! movement; Anatol Lyabedzka, chairperson of the United Civic Party (UCP); Ryhor Kastusyow, deputy chairperson of the Belarusian Popular Front; and Vital Rymashewski, co-chairperson of Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD).

The possibility of inviting the Belarusian legislature to participate in the Euronest PAs work may be discussed during the session, the UCP press office quoted Mr. Lyabedzka as saying. This issue was frozen, but now there is a thaw on the political calendar of Europe, he said. That is why we should be ready for a discussion. The current situation and the Riga summit are also on the agenda.

So far representatives of the Belarusian parliament have not been invited to participate in the Euronest, Mr. Rymashewski said, according to the BCD press office. I believe that appointed deputies have no right to represent our country on equal terms with the elected representatives of other countries until free and fair elections are held in Belarus.

Mr. Rymashewski stressed that opposition forces should speak with one voice at the Fourth Eastern Partnership Summit, to be held in Riga on May 21 and 22.

On March 18, the Belarusian delegation will deliver a report on the situation in Belarus. According to the BCD press office, Belarusian opposition forces have never before been allowed to speak at the Euronest PAs plenary sessions. A discussion about the activities of the Euronest PAs working group on Belarus will be held within the framework of the session.

The EU-Neighborhood East Parliamentary Assembly was established in May 2011 as the parliamentary dimension of the European Unions Eastern Partnership program.

The Euronest PA was expected to consist of 60 members of the European Parliament and a 10-member delegation from each of the six post-Soviet states participating in the Eastern Partnership program, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The Belarusian authorities have rejected a composition formula whereby the countrys delegation to the Euronest PA would include five members of the House of Representatives and five opposition politicians.

Belarusian lawmakers are currently not invited to attend Euronest PA sessions.