EPP President Joseph Daul visited Minsk, 1-2 September 2016
On 1 September 2016 Mr. Daul met with Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus, Alena Kupchyna, and deputy head of Lukashenka's Administration, Valery Mitskevich. EPP President also he met the leaders of the Belarusian democratic opposition parties and organisation – Vital Rymasheuski and Pavel Sieviarynets, co-chairmen, Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD), Anatol Liabedzka, chairman, United Civil Party (UCP), Yury Hubarevich, vice-chairman, “For Freedom” Movement, Alaksei Yanukevich, chairman, Belarusian Popular Front Party (BPF), Tatsiana Karatkevich, chairwoman, “Tell the truth” Campaign and others.
On the same day Mr. Daul visited the election pickets of the Center-right coalition (BCD, UCP and “For Freedom” Movement), where he spoke with the candidates and one of the leaders of the “Right to Choose” observation campaign, Mr. Dzianis Sadouski.
On 2 September 2016 the EPP President met with the representatives of human right organisations and civil society. The high point of the visit was the conference “The Young Generation and Centre-Right Values in Modern Politics” organised by Young Christian Democrats (BCD), Young Democrats (UCP), Youth of “For Freedom Movement” with over 70 participants from various regions of Belarus.
At the press-conference, which completed the programme of the visit, Mr. Joseph Daul made several statements on the current Parliament elections campaign and the situation in Belarus in general. In particular, he stated that the relations with Belarus are very important to the EPP. "We welcome every improvement of relations between Belarus and the European Union, as the European Union and Belarus have many common interests, especially with regard to security issues, geopolitics and changes in the world" - he said.
Mr. Joseph Daul said that the European Union has taken several steps to restore relations with Belarus, but the issues that caused the EU's "strong concern" are still in place. "The parliamentary elections on September, 11 should be a decisive step for the building of relations with Belarus. These elections must be free, fair, transparent and peaceful and must ensure equal opportunities for the opposition. Unfortunately, I have to admit that this is not happening"- said the EPP President. He noted the worrying information is coming from different parts of Belarus regarding the problems faced by the candidates and promised to track each case with great attention.
Parliament elections 2016
Mr. Daul stressed the importance of adopting and putting into practice the recommendations of the OSCE ODIHR, "which were formulated after the presidential elections in 2015 and which, unfortunately, have not been implemented." Among the most important he named - free operation of independent media, guaranteed access to the media for all candidates, cooperation with civil society, transparent vote count, absence of abuse during early voting, elimination of problems connected to the composition of local election commissions, especially those related to the counting of votes.
"We see that the changes that have taken place, do not comply with the fundamental OSCE recommendations. There are slight improvements in the interim OSCE report of 31 August 2016, "- said Joseph Daul.
"I repeat my credo, when I come to any country, a neighbour of the EU: rule of law, independent judiciary and fight against corruption. Without these three elements investors will not come here and it will not be possible to provide a better future for young people, who would go to look for their chances in other countries ", - he said.
Basic human rights
The death penalty in Belarus is a matter of great concern to the European People's Party, as well as general situation with human rights. "We took notice of the new arrests of political activists, which took place in May. We are particularly concerned about the fate of Uladzimir Kondrus and we are closely following this matter, "- said the MEP.
In addition, he drew attention to the non-registration of political parties and non-governmental organizations. "It is unacceptable that democratic parties face so many obstacles in order to participate in political life. Very often it happens without clear on the reasons and motivations. This is the case with the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party. The same applies for the registration of non-governmental organizations. I repeat it constantly: free and active civil society, as well as freedom of the press, are the basis for the development of democracy ", - said Joseph Daul.
The politician expressed his support for the Center-right coalition formed the United Civil Party, Movement "For Freedom" and the Belarusian Christian Democracy, because "only through jointly and effective opposition it is possible to create alternative choices for citizens." He promised to continue to provide strong support for this coalition.
According to the EPP President: "Belarus remains a priority in the European agenda. We will carefully study the results of the parliamentary elections on 11 September 2016. We asked the political parties and non-governmental organisations to send reports as to how they proceeded. And we will constructively criticize what happened for sake of the future. The Belarusian people, as the people of any other country, deserve transparent and fair elections".