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Belarus after EU sanctions: political reforms needed prior to parliamentary elections

“In lifting the sanctions against Belarus, the European Union has taken an important step, which acknowledges the improved situation and shows the EU’s commitment to dialogue. It is now time for Belarus to pursue a path of sustainable and meaningful reform, as I have also been discussing with the Belarusian authorities over the past year, both in Strasbourg and in Minsk,” said Andrea Rigoni (Italy, ALDE), PACE rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Brussels (2-3 March 2016).

“The forthcoming parliamentary election campaign will be an important marker for the Belarusian authorities to demonstrate their genuine political will to advance on the path of democracy and human rights,” said Mr Rigoni, who met with Members of the European Parliament, European Commission representatives, including the EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights, and civil society representatives.

“This is particularly true with regard to the simplification of the registration of political parties and non-profit organisations, a pluralistic composition of election commissions, as well as media freedom and pluralism in general, which are crucial for an informed, free and fair competition,” he added.

“Furthermore, a tangible step forward would be the immediate introduction of a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty, which I will also have the opportunity to discuss on 10 March in Minsk, at an international conference organised by the United Nations,” he concluded.