Press release of the BNP in connection with the next round of the dialogue in the format of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group

Belarusan National Platform of the EaP CSF

Belarusan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum welcomes the dialogue process in the format of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group, the third round of which was held in Minsk on 3-4 April 2017.

A dialogue between Belarus and the European Union in open and inclusive format can bring progress in bilateral relations, as well as to stimulate the most desired reforms in our country in line with European norms and standards.

The exchange of views and plans for a whole variety of issues of sectoral cooperation (economy, energy, trade, social policy, education, research, environment, etc.) is essential for socio-economic and socio-political development of our country in the framework of a common European space and may give additional dynamics to thematic Belarusan-European cooperation.

However, EU-Belarus dialogue currently takes place in a significant worsening of socio-political conditions associated with the repressive actions of the Belarusan authorities in relation to the participants of peaceful protests that took place in March 2017 in different cities of Belarus, as well as pressure on independent journalists and human rights defenders. For a constructive continuation of the dialogue Belarusan authorities should make an effort to restore atmosphere of trust and social peace, the path to which is through the abandonment of repressive actions against peaceful protests, guarantees of the rights and freedoms for citizens, as well as the ability to hear critical judgements regarding acting socio-economic policy.

BNP welcomes attempts of the parties to discuss at the meetings of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group difficult topics related to providing fundamental freedoms in Belarus (including freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of association).

BNP has deep concern of attempts of the Belarusan side to enter to EU-Belarus dialogue instead of representatives of independent civil society some actors and organizations that de facto are affiliated with the government and can not be regarded as a third party in this dialogue. These attempts deskredit the process of dialogue and in the case of their extension may lead to a depreciation of the format, which will have negative impact on the Belarusan-European relations.

Belarusan National Platform of the EaP CSF expects that the planning and agenda of the next stages of the Belarusan-European dialogue will also take into account conclusions and recommendations of the Monitoring Mission of the EaP Civil Society Forum, carried through 28 March — 1 April 2017 with a detailed analysis and assessment of the current condition of civil society and independent media, as well as the prospects of the Belarusan-European relations in the context of the Eastern Partnership initiative.

Belarusan National Platform is looking forward to closer and more regular bilateral consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus on the entire spectrum of EU-Belarus relations, that are of mutual interest, and calls on the Belarusan and European parties in the near future to agree on common Partnership Priorities, which will help to create a more solid basis for result-oriented and criteria-based cooperation. Partnership Priorities may also provide an opportunity to engage in this process a wide range of stakeholders in the Belarusan society. For its part, the Belarusan National Platform of the EaP CSF is ready to act as one of the platforms for such dialogue and cooperation.