We must be resolute, and support the people’s hope to live in a free Belarus

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I am sickened by the death of Roman Bandarenka and the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus. Lukashenka and his regime must bear full responsibility and be held accountable for this terrible situation. 

Across the political spectrum, this House has consistently been clear about its support for the Belarusian people who are the daily victims of Lukashenka regime’s repressions, and I am glad that we are making a strong statement once again today. 

At the same time, while I welcome today’s resolution and thank my colleagues from the different groups for their support, I believe that action is more important than words.

I welcome that the Council has finally adopted targeted sanctions against those responsible for the repressions in Belarus, and I am glad that more sanctions against perpetrators and enablers of the repressions are currently being prepared. EU response must be resolute. We must ensure that these crimes have consequences and that the perpetrators will one day be brought to justice.

It is also important that we review, as soon as possible, EU relations with Belarus, and ensure that the Lukashenka regime will not benefit from activities and EU funds. Instead, our assistance must be given to the Belarusian people and used to support a democratic Belarus.

The EPP Group strongly supports the creation of a European Parliament High Level Mission to help stop the violence, assist in freeing political prisoners, and create environment for a national dialogue that can lead to new free and fair elections. The Parliament must use all its available democracy support instruments to support the Belarusian people, and I believe the High-Level Mission is an important part of that.

The European Union must stand with the people of Belarus, we must be resolute, and support the people’s hope to live in a free, democratic, prosperous and sovereign Belarus.

This was the hope of Roman Bandarenka and the other victims of these repressions, of the hundreds of thousands of people who continue to peacefully demonstrate, of the workers who go on strike, and of the political prisoners (including my friend Pavel Sevyarynets) kept in appalling conditions in the regime’s prisons. We owe it to the people to be resolute and clear not just in our words but, above all, in our actions. 

Zyvie Belarus! 

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