The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) may recommend the Committee of Ministers to introduce restrictive measures against Minsk after the example of the European Union, Andres Herkel, PACE rapporteur for Belarus, said in an interview with BelaPAN in Strasbourg on Monday.
The Belarus issue was under discussion at a meeting of the PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy earlier in the day, with the participants featuring, among others, Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party; Alyaksandr Milinkevich, leader of the Movement for Freedom; and Alyaksandr Fyaduta of the "Tell the Truth!" movement, said Mr. Herkel.
A similar hearing on the situation in Belarus was held at the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in December, which is a sign that the Belarus issue is high on PACE’s agenda, he noted.
According to him, his report on the situation in Belarus will be heard by the political affairs committee on Tuesday and at PACE`s meeting the following day. As a result of its debate on the report, PACE is expected to adopt not only a resolution but also specific recommendations for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe that the participating states introduce sanctions against Belarusian officials after the example of the EU and continue supporting civil society, the independent media and students in the country, he said.
He expressed hope that the Assembly would adopt the recommendations.
Mr. Lyabedzka told BelaPAN that the Monday debate on the situation in Belarus had attracted a packed audience. "There were more than 100 people, including members of PACE and representatives of other bodies of the Council of Europe".
The veteran politician praised the Council of Europe for its consistent stance on Belarus. "It has withstood the test of time, as the Council of Europe has not yielded to the temptation to change its attitude to Belarus and start trading in principles and values", he said. "It never did something like this, unlike the OSCE and its parliamentary assembly, which now rather seek the correctional education of Belarusian lawmakers and their laws".
Commenting on proposals discussed at the meeting, Mr. Lyabedzka said that there were plans to set up a group of Belarusian human rights defenders who would monitor the situation in the country for PACE. There was also a proposal that the possibility of bringing those responsible for a crackdown on the opposition in Belarus to justice before the International Criminal Court in the Hague should be revisited, he said.
The Belarusian delegation also urged PACE to press for electoral amendments in Belarus ahead of the forthcoming House of Representatives elections, he added.