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GENEVA, June 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The European Union fears that people’s right to express their opinion can be infringed upon in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections Belarus.
As the parliamentary elections slated for September 23 are nearing, the EU fears that the situation will keep deteriorating and the right to express one’s opinion, the right to the freedom of association and assembly will continue be suppressed and prosecuted, Mariangela Zappia, Head of the European Union Delegation to the U.N. and other International Organisations in Geneva, said at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday, June 27.
The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), earlier urged “the Belarusian authorities to open up political space and to meet their commitments to the OSCE in terms of standards for free and fair elections, electoral reforms, media freedom and respect for human rights”.
The committee regretted that Belarus' Central Election Commission has recently decided that there will be no change in electoral legislation prior to the parliamentary elections, as recommended by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). “It also expresses serious concern over the continuing arrests of human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists and regrets that several of them remain in jail, despite repeated calls by the Parliamentary Assembly and the international community as a whole to release them and restore their rights,” the PACE said.
The committee underlined the importance of non-violent dissent and opposition, which should not be labelled as terrorism and anarchy. The reaction of the authorities to such dissent and opposition is an indicator of the health of a democracy, it said.
The committee “called on the Belarusian leadership to promote a democratic and fair parliamentary campaign and to ensure freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as political rights for all opposition movements. It also urged the authorities to allow international observers into the country to monitor the elections, as well as international human rights defenders to monitor the observance of fundamental freedoms during the election period, and to facilitate their work and actively co-operate with them”.
Belarus’ Permanent Representative to the U.N. and other International Organisations in Geneva Mikhail Khvostov said, “Belarus is a democracy country” and stressed that the human rights situation in Belarus “is in many respects better than in EU countries and does not require to be considered separately”.
“The EU has its own goals and tasks in Belarus, the main of which is to change the government by all costs. We know about these goals and tasks and we have justified mistrust towards the EU,” the diplomat said.
Khvostov said Brussels’ political strategy with regard to Belarus was “a political dead end for the European Union”.