The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has set out wide-ranging proposals to build a democratic future for Belarus – including a new set of measures to support Belarusian democratic forces led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who also addressed the Assembly.
Approving a resolution based on a report by Kimmo Kiljunen (Finland, SOC), the Assembly voted to create a “representative delegation of Belarusian democratic forces” which would be able to take part in the work of its committees and networks, and decided to appoint a “General Rapporteur for a Democratic Belarus”.
The Assembly reiterated its ambition to welcome “a future democratic, independent, sovereign, peaceful and prosperous Belarus as a member of the Council of Europe” and encouraged European states to “continue to differentiate between the Lukashenka regime and the people of Belarus”.
The parliamentarians expressed their “gravest concern” at the systematic deterioration of human rights, the rule of law and democratic standards in Belarus since the fraudulent presidential elections of August 2020, adding: “The repression by the Lukashenka regime against the Belarusian people is so serious, widespread and systematic that it may amount to crimes against humanity.”
Addressing the Assembly, Belarusian democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said the fate of freedom and democracy was being decided in her region, whether on the battlefields of Ukraine or Belarus: “Tyrants can put people in jail, destroy cities and blackmail us with nuclear weapons, but they will never – I repeat never – stifle the freedom-loving spirit of the Belarusian and Ukrainian people.”
The fates of Ukraine and Belarus were intertwined, she pointed out: “Without victory for Ukraine, a free Belarus is not possible. And without a free Belarus, there cannot be lasting peace in Europe.” Joining the Council of Europe, she announced, would be a first step for a democratic Belarus on the path to the European Union.