Yesterday 22 November, Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets attended virtually the conference ‘Towards a Prosperous and Safe Future in Belarus’ in Vienna, convened to look into how the international community can support democratic processes in Belarus, encourage the civil society there and send them a message of support in their extremely difficult circumstances.
In her statement, Minister Liimets recalled that the cynicism of the recent hybrid attacks organised by the Belarusian authorities on the border of the European Union have overshadowed the continuing widespread human rights violations in the country, which gained particular momentum before and after the fraudulent presidential elections last summer. “More than a year after mass protests and their violent suppression we must continue to be vocal in our support for the bravery and determination of those fighting for democracy in Belarus. We are also calling for the release of the people who have lost their freedom for drawing attention to the falsification and for criticising the authorities,” the minister stressed.
Liimets also underlined the right of the Belarusian people to a better future in a democratic, developing, successful and safe Belarus. “The people of Belarus at home and abroad must have a chance to have a say in the future of their country and participate in fair public debates on democratic processes, such as changing the constitution, including abolishing the death penalty,” the minister explained. “The constitutional amendments in Belarus will be put on a referendum in late February. The amendments of the constitution that will be put on the vote should be made public and the impartial Venice Commission should be included in an advisory role. A public debate over the constitutional amendments could open a new way out of the impasse where the de facto president has taken the country,” the foreign minister added.
Liimets also referred to the option of the Council of Europe offering its support in carrying out democratic reforms, establishing rule of law and supporting human rights. “Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe but over the years, Belarus has signed and ratified 12 agreements and protocols of the Council of Europe. The programmes agreed between Belarus and the Council of Europe have been drawn up to help bring the legislation of Belarus closer to democratic standards,” Minister Liimets said at the conference.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia