Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Opposition politicians say House of Representatives should not be represented in Euronest PA

By Syarhey Karalevich, BelaPAN

Belarus' leading opposition politicians warned on Thursday that the new House of Representatives should not be represented in the EU-Neighborhood East Parliamentary Assembly (Euronest PA).

The politicians made the warning at a discussion on Belarus in Brussels.

"This is a common stance," Belarusian Popular Front Chairman Alyaksey Yanukevich who attended the discussion told BelaPAN. "['Tell the Truth!' movement leader] Tatsyana Karatkevich said that one needed to wait for at least a year. [United Civic Party leader] Anatol Lyabedzka said that one should wait until the next local elections and see whether the House of Representatives takes steps toward systemic democratic changes. All of the rest, including me, said that the results of the elections gave no grounds for revising the attitude toward the House of Representatives, so its involvement in Euronest PA is out of the question."

The discussion was held by the working group on Belarus in Euronest PA and the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Belarus.

Apart from Messrs. Yanukevich and Lyabedzka and Ms. Karatkevich, the meeting was attended by Iryna Veshtard, leader of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party; Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, who leads the Movement for the Statehood and Independence of Belarus; Alyaksandr Milinkevich, chairman of the Movement for Freedom; Vital Rymashewski, a co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy; and former presidential candidate and political prisoner Mikalay Statkevich.

Mr. Yanukevich said that the European Parliament may debate a resolution on Belarus' House of Representatives elections at a session in Strasbourg later this month. However, the debate may be delayed by one month if there is disagreement over how the draft resolution describes the elections, said the politician.

"Bogdan Zdrojewski, head of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Belarus, said at the meeting that if the Belarusian legislature was not recognized by the European Parliament, its admission to Euronest would be automatically ruled out," said Mr. Yanukevich. "The resolution should say whether or not the legislature is recognized. That will be a fairly important document. In fact the resolution may determine whether it will be possible altogether to continue talk of the admission of the House of Representatives to Euronest."

Some MEPs expressed their opinion of the elections at the meeting, according to Mr. Yanukevich. "The opinions were mostly critical, although there were some advocates of attempts at engaging with the House of Representatives. But as of today the general balance of opinion obviously indicates that the elections will not be recognized by the European Parliament," he said.