Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union regarding Belarus

Subject: Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union regarding Belarus

Policy area: General Affairs and External Relations

News item: CFSP statements

The EU is alarmed by the deterioration of the situation regarding freedom of media and freedom of expression in Belarus. The censorship and harassment of independent media by the Belarus state are cause for great concern. The EU deeply regrets the repression of journalists, trade unions and others critical of President Lukashenko.

The EU fully supports the statement of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media prompted by the recent sentencing of editor in chief Mr. Ivashkevich for defamation of President Lukashenko, and refers to the EU statement in the OSCE Permanent Council. The trials of Mr. Ivashkevich, Mr. Markevich and Mr. Mozheiko, as well as the proceedings taken against Mrs. Khalip, are worrying examples of the intimidation of media representatives by the Belarus authorities. The EU urges the Belarus authorities to revoke these sentences.

The EU furthermore expresses its deep concern with the investigations of opposition leader Mr. Lebedko for allegedly slandering the President, and calls upon the authorities to bring to a halt its attempts to subjugate the opposition.

The EU urges Belarus to adhere to its international commitments to freedom of media and freedom of expression, and calls upon the authorities to revise the provisions in the Criminal Code that affect freedom of media and of expression.

The EU underlines the need to see improvements in the situation regarding human rights and democracy before relations between the EU and Belarus can move forward.

The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union, the associated countries Cyprus and Malta, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.

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