Speaking during an exchange of views on Belarus, organised by the Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee, PACE President Rik Daems stressed that “a solution will only come from the Belarusian people”.
In a pressing plea for non-violence, he called for an immediate end to unlawful detentions.
“Belarus is going through a terrible crisis, certainly when you look at it from the point of view of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said, underlining that society had passed a tipping point where people were no longer afraid to defend their rights and were not ready to return to the past.
“This is a call for change, not some destabilisation effort,” he said, warning that if one looked at history, especially in some Council of Europe member countries, the situation could easily run over into some form of revolution. His message focused on evolution instead of revolution, progress and an all-inclusive process with all stakeholders on board, so that gradual change towards the Council of Europe’s common values could take place.
“But change has to come. It all boils down to one question that I would like to put to all of us, but more specifically to our guests - former Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Andrei Savinykh, Chairperson of the Standing Commission on International Affairs of the National Assembly of Belarus. You or those whom you represent or symbolise, do you wish to be part of the problem, or do you wish to become part of the solution?” he asked, adding that he was convinced that both wanted to be part of the solution.
“We all want Belarus, through this process of change, to become part of this great family of common values that is the Council of Europe. Today may perhaps be a very first small step towards a better future for all Belarusian citizens in terms of human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. But again, the solution will only come from the Belarusian people themselves. This must be clear. We as the Council of Europe, as PACE, stand ready to be part of that solution,” he concluded.