26 November

Helga Schmid: Belarus is part of European family


Belarus is part of the European family, there is a consensus in Europe on the question of importance of Belarus for Europe. It was said by Helga Schmid, director of Policy Unit of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union on the Minsk Forum X on November, 24. H. Schmid welcomed the forum participants on behalf of Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

According to Ms. Schmid, a new strategy of Brussels on development the relation with Belarus is not a set of conditions or ultimatum, but elaboration of the necessary grounds for cooperation. She named this proposal of Brussels generous, because it comprises not only such spheres as transport and energy, but also human contacts. Europe stands ready to support Belarus on the way of significant reforms and modernisation for welfare of Belarusian citizens, Schmid said. But there are still no preconditions for such development and cooperation today.

The European Union understands that 12 recommendations for development of the relation cant be fulfilled in short time, but if the main conditions are fulfilled, the EU will react immediately. First of all the case is in release of all political prisoners. As it is known, the EU imposed restrictions against the people who are guilty in dispersion of demonstrations, but these restrictions have no finality. The EU is following the situation in Belarus and if there are signs of its improvement, the lists of restricted people may be corrected.

In her speech the European official said that Belarusian people decides itself who rules its state, but the citizens have right to hold open and free election 2008. According to H. Schmid, during her meeting with Valer Varanetski, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Belarus, he confirmed that the Belarusian side is going to hold the election campaign in accordance with international standards.

After presidential election 2006 the situation in Belarus arouses concern of Brussels, Schmid said. She noted the existing in the country, in her opinion, problems with freedom of press and activity of non-governmental organisations, pressure on opposition and civil society.

Among the steps of the Belarusian authorities, considered by Brussels as positive, the EU representative named holding of the Congress of democratic forces in Minsk in May, 2007, decision on opening the office of the European Commission, holding of the European and Social Marches this autumn, though there were detainments before the European March.

H. Schmid referred to the recent interview by J. Solana to an independent Belarusian media (interview to Charter97 site editorial note), where he welcomed the attempts of the opposition to begin a dialog with the authorities and expressed his hope that the authorities will agree to have dialog. Schmid emphasised the importance of this approach.

According to Solana spokesman, the Belarusian authorities stand ready for cooperation with the EU. She also noted that Brussels has keen interest in Belarusian question. Our goal is to welcome Belarus in the family of European states, Schmid said.