23 November

Andrei Sannikov: Nothing stands behind quiet signals of the regime so far


Today in Minsk Gernot Erler, Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Ministry, Bundestag deputies of CDU/CSU, SPD and Green factions, Gebhardt Weiss, the German ambassador to Belarus, workers of German Foreign Ministry have had a meeting with the Charter97 international coordinator Andrei Sannikov, the chairman of the Belarusian Ppopular Front party Vintsuk Vyachorka, the leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka and the head of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Narodnaya Hramada) Mikola Statkevich. During the meeting politicians discussed the situation in Belarus and to what extent the Belarusian authorities are ready to fulfill recommendations of the EU offered a year ago.

During the meeting we discussed the situation in Belarus, proceeding from the remarks made by Gernot Erler, Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Ministry, at Minsk Forum, about faint signals from Minsk. To my mind, Mr Erlers speech was balanced, realistic and with emphasis accurately placed. The German politician has stated that Belarus has a European mission. It was clear from his speech who and what hinder Belarus development on this stage. It is obvious that the position of Germany and of the EU in general has been elaborated fairly well: besides the EU proposals, there were other statements both from the European Commission representatives and representatives of the European Union Council. The obstacles in the way of Belarus development are seen clearly. The more time passes, the clearer it is that the obstinacy and unwillingness of the regime to accept the EU proposals could lead to a serious crisis, both within the regime and in the country, the international coordinator of the Charter97 press-center Andrei Sannikov told after the meeting.

As said by Sannikov, the necessity to release political prisoners in Belarus, stop repressions, hold free elections were discussed during the meeting with German politicians as well.

We spoke about a group of people in the establishment who would like to tighten control and repressions. And we spoke that beside faint signals not backed by anything so far, there are loud signals, like a suit of a deputy Charhinets against journalist Alyaksandr Tamkovich (100 mln Br) and against Zhoda newspaper for 500 mln Br. We have also discussed political prisoners treatment stiffening and hardening of incarceration conditions for them. Non-use of explicit violence against participants of the European March on October 14, and the decision to open the EU representation in Belarus were viewed as positive signals, the diplomat said.

It has been said during the meeting that the democratic forces of Belarus are supporting the recommendations of the EU and believe that first of all political prisoners release should be achieved, and then there should be pressure to make the regime to accept all other offers of the EU.

During the meeting it has been said that the dialogue of the regime and the opposition could get matters off the ground. The opposition has offered to start a dialogue many times. There hasnt been a formal answer so far. But as far as we know, many officials attitude towards the proposals of the opposition is positive. The speech of Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Ministry at Minsk Forum about the necessity of holding a dialogue between the regime and the opposition means that the problem should be solved in Belarus itself, and the dialogue of the official Minsk with Brussels is impossible without resolution of the situation by the Belarusians themselves. Mr Erler has noted the importance of the fact that the organizers of the European March had invited the authorities to the dialogue. The most acceptable form of problems solution is a dialogue. There are other forms certainly. Overcoming the crisis often happens thanks to intensification of the conflict. But we would like to everything to be solved peacefully, Andrei Sannikov said.