Chairwoman Hautala met on 17 November with the leader of the Belarusian opposition and the winner of the 2006 European Parliament Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought and Chairman of the “Movement for Freedom”, Mr Aliaksandr Milienkievic, and several other leaders of the Belarusian democratic opposition. Chairwoman Hautala expressed grave concern over the situation of political prisoners, still persisting application of death penalty, violations of freedom of associations, speech and distribution of information. She expressed her strong interest to support the the newly formed “Block for Independent Belarus”, to where all of the political parties of the guest delegation belong. [:]
In the meeting both Chairwoman Hautala and Mr Milinkievic underlined that even as the human rights situation remains grim and prospects for improvements are scarce, keeping the conditional dialogue between the EU and Belarusian authorities open is of crucial importance to the human rights in the country. Mr Milinkievic underlined that the regime should be offered incentives in the field of economic cooperation in exchange of real steps towards democratization. Both agreed that sanctions should not be lifted so long as the lack of progress with regards human rights and democracy persists.
Chairwoman Hautala expressed strong wish to continue discussion on human rights in Belarus in the European parliament Sub-committee on Human Rights in the near future. She invited Mr Milienkievic and his colleagues to visit and address such hearing at the Sub-committee on Human Rights, saying that she is convinced that one day Belarus will be a part of the European Union.