Representative Calls For Simpler EU Visa Procedures for Belarusians
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenka
( Photo: ITAR-TASS/Scanpix )
The European Union confirmed new economic sanctions against Belarus at foreign ministers meetings in Brussels on Friday.
“The EU must continue its policy of criticism of Belarus, while also supporting democratic forces,” said Harri Tiido, Estonia's representative at the Political and Security Committee.
Tiido said economic sanctions would be the most efficient way of pressuring Belarus but that it is hard to predict how the Lukashenka regime will react.
Tiido also called for strengthening relations with Belarusian civil society by simplifying the visa process to EU countries. “It would be a positive message from the EU,” said Tiido. Estonia and other EU countries have already eliminated visa fees for Belarusian citizens.
Last week, Belarusian authorities executed two 26-year-olds for carrying out a bomb attack in a Minsk subway last year, in which 15 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.
Human rights activists and EU leaders said the convictions and executions were hasty and undemocratic. The testimonies of the men, the main evidence against them, were reportedly obtained through torture, and one of the testimonies was later revoked in court.
Earlier this week, demonstrations took place at Belarusian embassies around the world, as well as at the site of the subway attack and at the home of Vladislav Kovalyov.
According to human rights reports, nearly 300 people have been executed in Belarus after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Due to tightening sanctions and the isolation of Belarus from Europe, the country is increasingly in the sphere of Russian control, according to human rights adviser Silver Meikar.