Updated at 22:10,27-11-2020

Discussion about Belarus-EU relationship held at European Parliament

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

A discussion about the relationship between Belarus and the European Union following the country’s presidential election was held at the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Organized by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, and the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Belarus, the discussion featured Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, chairperson of the Delegation for Relations with Belarus; Dirk Schuebel, head of the European External Action Service’s division responsible for the EU’s relations with the Eastern Partnership countries; Andrey Yahoraw, director of the Center for European Transformation; Hanna Herasimava, director of the Vilnius-based Belarusian Human Rights House; and Uladzimir Dunayew, a former vice rector of European Humanities University who leads a group called the Public Bologna Committee.

Participants at the meeting agreed that the European Union was likely to suspend the application of its restrictive measures against Belarusian authorities, Mr. Yahoraw told BelaPAN.

As a result, Belarus will be able to negotiate credit lines with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and get support for its WTO accession bid, he said.

The Belarusian delegation to the meeting pointed out that there had been no “systemic” improvements in the human rights situation in Belarus, despite the release of the remaining political prisoners this past August, and called for devising a human rights roadmap, Mr. Yahoraw said.

According to him, members of the European Parliament are more skeptical about reengagement with Belarus than the European External Action Service. “In general, though, I didn’t hear anyone call for a drastic rethink of our policy toward Minsk,” Mr. Yahoraw said. “Belarusian authorities may crack down on civil society again and refuse to meet any conditions, even if further rapprochement is at stake.”