Updated at 14:13,24-01-2022

EU set to demand rehabilitation of all political prisoners in Belarus


The European Union is set to demand the full rehabilitation of all political prisoners in Belarus as a prerequisite for the resumption of a mutual dialogue, Radoslaw Sikorski, foreign minister of Poland that currently holds the EU rotating presidency, told reporters in Warsaw on Monday.

The EU`s decision to invite Belarus to the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Warsaw on September 29 and 30 is an "exception" at the current stage of the bilateral relations, said Mr. Sikorski.

The foreign minister noted that the EU introduced sanctions against Minsk earlier this year for a crackdown on political opponents following last December’s presidential election.

Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Jerzy Pomianowski, said that the EU was not holding secret talks with Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

As for the Bulgarian foreign minister’s secret meeting with Mr. Lukashenka in Minsk in late August, Mr. Pomianowski said that Nikolai Mladenov traveled to Minsk at his own initiative and all questions about the meeting at which Mr. Lukashenka reportedly promised to release all political prisoners by the beginning of October should be addressed to the Bulgarian minister. "We learned from the media about the outcome of the visit and Mr. Lukashenka’s promises," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka vowed at the meeting to hold a 'roundtable' discussion with the opposition but later backtracked on his words, claiming that he meant only talks with civil society activists, said Mr. Pomianowski.

Changes can occur in Belarus as quickly as they have recently did in Tunisia and Egypt, and if Mr. Lukashenka changes his rhetoric and methods promptly, he may even lead them and have the international community’s attitude toward him revised, he added.