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Belarus: Council of Europe leaders make joint statement

Demonstration in Minsk, Belarus

The Greek Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Rik Daems, and the Secretary General of the 47-nation Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, have today made the following statement concerning Belarus:

“Developments after the presidential elections of 9 August in Belarus and the crackdown exercised by the authorities and law enforcement remain of greatest concern. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental European values which must be respected. Violence against peaceful protestors is intolerable. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any further use of violence in Belarus, including the disproportionate use of force by the authorities against protestors, as reported recently.

We call in particular to strictly respect the rights of journalists. Mass arrests and extensive ill-treatment of peaceful protesters cannot be tolerated on our continent. We firmly recall our position that all those detained must be released and that there is a need to start genuine and respectful dialogue with the representatives of civil society in view of the constitutional reform long-awaited by the whole country. An end to the crisis and meaningful reforms cannot be negotiated with pro-governmental forces only. They will not succeed without the participation of all, including those who oppose the authorities. The Council of Europe stands ready to help Belarus on its way to genuine reforms.”