Brussels, 25 August 2020
Joint Statement by the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum have issued a statement with a call to the international community on the situation in Belarus.
Tensions in Belarus are high as violations of fundamental rights of the Belarusian people continue. Massive crowds of Belarusians gather for protests, which are answered by the police with a brutal crackdown, repressions and arrests of peaceful protesters. The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum condemn the abuses of fundamental rights and urge the international community to uphold international standards and use all available mechanisms in order to:
- guarantee the right of the people of Belarus to assemble peacefully and express their views freely, and their right to free and fair elections;
- put an end to the excessive use of force and torture against peaceful protesters in Belarus, and punish the perpetrators;
- secure the release of illegally detained Belarusian protesters and political prisoners, and conduct a fair, public investigation into the criminal and administrative cases initiated in an attempt to defame and discredit the opposition.
The joint statement emphasises the need for a constructive dialogue with the protesters who are represented by the Coordination Council, established by the opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The Coordination Council represents an important opportunity for the peace restoration process in Belarus and must be formally recognised by the international institutions. In order to do this, the European Union and other international actors should assist the Council in organising negotiations with the Belarusian authorities in order to facilitate future free and fair elections and to reach consensus with Belarusian society about the way forward.
Moreover, while the organisation of national strikes in support of democratic change is ongoing, many members of the striking committees have been detained and workers who participated in the strikes are put under pressure or are unlawfully dismissed. Thus, the EU should use all available mechanisms in order to end unlawful detentions, dismissals and pressure on striking workers who ceased work in response to the unlawful action of the Belarusian authorities.
Given that the Kremlin has expressed its support to Aliaksandr Lukashenka, the Steering Committee of the EaP CSF and the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum call on the Russian authorities to withhold from any invervention against the expression of the Belarusian people’s will.
Furthermore, the European and global institutions should publicly disapprove such statements by the Russian government, as the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Belarus should remain inviolable. In addition, the EU should demand guarantees of non-intervention by the Russian Federation.
Lastly, the international community should closely monitor and react to developments in Belarus, and encourage adherence to international democratic standards.
Members of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Zaur Akbar, Youth Club Public Union, Azerbaijan
Olga Chyzhova, Digital Communication Network, Estonia
Ina Coseru, National Environmental Center, Moldova
Lousineh Hakobyan, Europe in Law Association, Armenia
Mikayel Hovhannisyan, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Armenia
Shahla Ismayil, Women’s Association for Rational Development (WARD), Azerbaijan
Maksym Koriavets, Polissya Foundation for International and Regional Studies, Ukraine
Mikalai Kvantaliani, Association “New Group”, Belarus
Natia Kuprashvili, Journalism Resource Center, Georgia
Adrian Lupusor, Expert-Grup, Moldova
Tatiana Marian, National Trade Union Confederation of Moldova
Sofia Strive, ForumCiv, Sweden
Yurii Vdovenko, Center for Cross-Border Cooperation, Ukraine
On behalf of the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
Polina Filippova, Sakharov Centre, Russia
Nikola Mokrović, Co-Chair of the Forum Board/ Documenta, Croatia