"Events in Belarus demonstrate the paramount importance of the values the Council of Europe stands for. By actively defending their fundamental freedoms, the people of Belarus have chosen the path of democratic change. Therefore, an all-inclusive national political process is urgently needed to ensure peaceful and democratic transition, opening the door for much-needed reforms. I welcome the efforts of all stakeholders and international partners to support it," said PACE President Rik Daems.
"As a champion of democracy and human rights on the continent, the Council of Europe could provide valuable standards and expertise, in particular in the fields of constitutional and electoral reform, strengthening the independence and the efficiency of the justice system, creating an enabling environment for civil society, and supporting a pluralistic and independent media environment, as well as in many other fields.
The Organisation’s strategic objective remains the integration of Belarus into the Council of Europe on the basis of the Organisation’s values and principles. Today, we have the opportunity to take an important step along this path and all Council of Europe member States should work together in order to achieve this objective, in the interests of Europe, its citizens and the values we share.
I sincerely hope that the political process and democratic reforms will allow us to welcome Belarus and its citizens into our family of common values where they belong. Therefore I look forward to a comprehensive discussion within the Political Affairs Committee in the coming weeks to identify concrete initiatives that could be put forward by the Assembly in this respect."
Belarus applied to join the Council of Europe in 1993 but its special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly has been suspended since 1997.