Catherine Ashton: EEAS is concerned about the situation in Belarus


Catherine Ashton, the European Union‘s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, answered the letter about cancelling World Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus.

We remind, that Irina Bogdanova, Founder of Human Rights campaign «Free Belarus Now», Michael Cashman, Member of European Parliament, Great Britain, Tony Lloyd, MP, Head of OSCE Observation Mission in Belarus in 2010, Bruce Jackson, President of «Project on Transitional Democracies», Natalia Kaliada, Founding Co-Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre, Nicolai Khalezin, Founding Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre, Irina Krasovskaya, President of «We Remember» Foundation, Tom Stoppard, playwright wrote this letter.

The full text of Ashton’s answer:

«Thank you for your letter of 13 January 2012 on the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus, that you addressed to President José Manuel Barroso, Commissioner Stefan Füle and myself. I am pleased to reply on their behalf as well as on my own.

The European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) share your concerns and analysis of the situation in Belarus.

Since the 19 December 2010 Presidential elections, there has been a serious deterioration in Belarus as regards the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles. Peaceful demonstrators are being imprisoned, non-violent protests suppressed, the political opposition and civil society harassed, and independent media repressed.

The Commission and the EEAS consider the existence of political prisoners in the heart of Europe to be unacceptable and are seriously concerned by credible reports of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment. The EU has made clear that it will not positively review any policies towards Belarus until all political prisoners are released and rehabilitated.

In face of developments in Belarus, the EU has no choice than to stay true to its values and to vocally condemn the lack of respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles. Moreover, We are determined to target those responsible for the acts of repression by restrictive measures. At the same time, the EU is committed to strengthening its engagement with Belarusian civil society and political opposition».