MOSCOW, March 18. /TASS/. The European Union believes that the recent protests against an unpopular labor law in Belarus indicate a need for democratization in that country, the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement on Friday.
"The latest developments in Belarus highlight a clear need for a broader democratisation process in the country," the document says. "Freedom of association and of assembly needs to be ensured. Recently detained peaceful protesters, including journalists covering the events, must be immediately released."
"The European Union is committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous future for Belarus, for the benefit of its people, and will continue its work with all the stakeholders with this objective firmly in in mind," the EEAS said. "Steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, rule of law and human rights will remain key for the shaping of the European Union's relationship with the country."
Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko signed a law, dubbed in the press as the "law against social parasites," in April 2015. The law requires all those who work less than 183 days a year to pay a levy of more than 200 U.S. dollars for "lost taxes" to help fund welfare policies.
The law sparked off mass protests across the country. More than 160 people have been detained since February 17. On March 12, several journalists were also detained in Orsha after a rally of "non-parasites.".