In a joint statement by the Alternate Foreign Minister of Greece, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, President of the Committee of Ministers, Rik Daems, President of the Parliamentary Assembly and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General, the three Council of Europe leaders called on the Belarusian authorities and all relevant stakeholders “to urgently initiate a broad-based and inclusive national dialogue, fully involving civil society, to ensure a peaceful way out of the current crisis and opening the door for necessary reforms benefiting all Belarusian citizens.”
Belarus is not yet a member of the Council of Europe. However, over the years it did sign and ratify 12 Council of Europe treaties and protocols, as well as joined four Partial Agreements: The Venice Commission, GRECO (the Group of States against Corruption), the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sports and the European Pharmacopeia. In addition, the Council of Europe has a number of activities in Belarus, facilitated through its Information Point in Minsk, which was opened in 2009. A new Action Plan (2019-21) between Belarus and the Council of Europe on related project cooperation was adopted last year. “We all wish that one day Belarus will join our European family of common values by becoming a full-fledged member of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe stands ready to work for the implementation of the Action Plan to help bring Belarusian legislation closer to European democratic standards,” highlighted the three leaders.
“The Council of Europe, with its expertise and experience stands ready to support such a dialogue, in cooperation with other international partners. In particular, we stand ready to support necessary constitutional reforms,” they underlined.
The leaders of the Council of Europe concluded by calling for “the immediate release of all detained protesters, the stop to all ill-treatment and for the urgent and transparent investigation into acts of law enforcement brutality. Legitimacy cannot come from repression. It comes from an electoral process that is free, fair and based on the rule of law”.