Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

European Parliament president calls for rethink of relations with Minsk

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek on Wednesday urged all European institutions to "rethink their relations with Belarus."

In a statement made after his meeting with a delegation of Belarusian opposition politicians in Brussels, Mr. Buzek said that the post-election situation in the country had been under discussion.

"During our meeting we have asked them for their advice on how to best handle the current situation: how the European Union, in practical terms, can and should help to give freedom and democracy a real chance in Belarus," the European Parliament president said.

Mr. Buzek said that the European Union's "first priority" was securing the release of all of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's opponents still held in detention. "The heavy charges brought against them must be dropped immediately. Proper medical care must be provided to all those in need. This is a sine qua non condition if Belarus wants to have any relations with the EU," he warned.

Mr. Buzek stressed that "the situation has changed" after the Belarusian authorities' crackdown on anti-Lukashenka protestors and opposition politicians. "Our relations should reflect that," he added.

The delegation included, among others, Alyaksandr Milinkevich and Alyaksandr Kazulin, who ran for president in 2006, as well as Stanislaw Shushkevich, Belarus' first formal head of state, and Syarhey Kalyakin, chairman of the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left who led the Campaign for Fair Elections during December's vote.

They were reported to have met with Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, on the same day. Ms. Ashton was said to have confirmed that she would demand the release of all of the opposition figures detained in Belarus at her meeting with Belarusian Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynaw later on Wednesday.