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Alexander Schallenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Austria

Philippe Goffin, Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence, Kingdom of Belgium

Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Bulgaria

Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic

Gordan Grlić Radman, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Croatia

Nikos Christodoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Cyprus

Jeppe Kofod, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Denmark

Urmas Reinsalu, Foreign Minister, Republic of Estonia

Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Republic of Finland

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, French Republic

Heiko Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federal Republic of Germany

Nikos Dendias, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hellenic Republic

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary

Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland

Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italian Republic

Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Latvia

Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Lithuania

Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Malta

Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands

Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland

Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Portugal

Bogdan Aurescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania

Ivan Korčok, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovak Republic

Miro Cerar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Slovenia

Arancha González Laya, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Spain

Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Sweden

 

25 August 2020

 

Joint Statement by the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum ahead of the Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers, 27-28 August 2020

We are dismayed at the continued violation of the fundamental rights of the Belarusian people in the wake of the undemocratic presidential election on 9 August 2020. We urge the international community to push for upholding international standards and useall available mechanisms in order to:

  • guarantee the right of the people of Belarus to assemble peacefully and express their views freely, and their right to free and fair elections;
  • put an end to the excessive use of force and torture against peaceful protesters in Belarus, and punish the perpetrators;
  • secure the release of illegally detained Belarusian protesters and political prisoners, and conduct a fair, public investigation into the criminal and administrative cases initiated in an attempt to defame and discredit the opposition.

We emphasise that open and constructive dialogue with the protesters represented by the Coordination Council [1], the body recently established by the opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya [2], is a crucial step in the peace restoration process in Belarus, and we call for its formal recognition by the international institutions [3]The European Union and other international actors should assist the Council in organising negotiations with the Belarusian authorities to resolve the current post-election crisis in BelarusA criminal case on charges of attempting to seize power and undermine Belarusian national security has been launched against the Coordination Council, though Council has clearly stated that it does not pursue such goals.

We call on the EU to use all available mechanisms to end unlawful detentions, dismissals and pressure on striking workers who ceased work in response to the unlawful action of the Belarusian authorities. Efforts to organise a national strike in support of democratic change have started, yet currently many members of the striking committees are being detained, while workers participating in the strikes are being unlawfully laid off and subjected to psychological and other pressure [4].

As the Kremlin has expressed its willingness to support Aliaksandr Lukashenka in line with its obligations stipulated by its membership of the Union State of Russia and Belarus as well as the Collective Security Treaty Organisation [5]we also call on the Russian authorities to restrain from any intervention against the expression of the Belarusian people’s will. Further, we urge the European and global institutions to publicly disapprove such statements by the Russian government: the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Belarus should remain inviolable.

While the authorities of the Russian Federation state the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of Belarus, they are also granting Aliaksandr Lukashenka strong support in the information sphere in Belarus [6]. We call therefore on the Russian authorities to prevent information interventions, dissemination of fake news and statements from high-level officials that do not correspond to the reality regarding the nature of the protest, the programme of the Coordination Council, the use of the Belarusian language, the so-called ‘nationalist’ motives of the protesters, etc.

Finally, we call on the international community to closely follow and react to developments in Belarus, and encourage adherence to international democratic standards.

Members of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Zaur Akbar, Youth Club Public Union, Azerbaijan

Olga Chyzhova, Digital Communication Network, Estonia

Ina Coseru, National Environmental Center, Moldova

Lousineh Hakobyan, Europe in Law Association, Armenia

Mikayel Hovhannisyan, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Armenia

Shahla Ismayil, Women’s Association for Rational Development (WARD), Azerbaijan

Maksym Koriavets, Polissya Foundation for International and Regional Studies, Ukraine

Mikalai Kvantaliani, Association “New Group”, Belarus

Natia Kuprashvili, Journalism Resource Center, Georgia

Adrian Lupusor, Expert-Grup, Moldova

Tatiana Marian, National Trade Union Confederation of Moldova

Sofia Strive, ForumCiv, Sweden

Yurii Vdovenko, Center for Cross-Border Cooperation, Ukraine

On behalf of the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

Polina Filippova, Sakharov Centre, Russia

Nikola Mokrović, Co-Chair of the Forum Board/  Documenta, Croatia

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