EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has urged Belarusian authorities immediately to release those detained on political grounds in the wake of the recent presidential elections in Belarus and to put an end to the "persecution of opposition, democratic forces and representatives of civil society." In a meeting with Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov, held in Brussels today, 12 January, the High Representative reiterated "the EU's condemnation of the violent crackdown against demonstrators, widespread arrests and harassment of civil society representatives in the aftermath of the elections."
Ashton told the Belarusian Foreign Minister that the EU was looking into appropriate measures in response to the post-election events, a press release said, with a view to decisions to be taken at the Foreign Affairs Council of 31 January 2011.
Earlier today, Catherine Ashton underlined in a meeting with a group of Belarusian opposition and civil society leaders the EU's solidarity and support to those detained on political grounds, and their families.
The High Representative met, among others, former presidential candidates in the 2006 presidential elections, Aliaksandr Milinkevich and Aliaksandr Kazulin, as well as the first head of state of independent Belarus, Stanislaw Shuskevich.
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek also met the opposition leaders, whom he described as "the real winners of the last elections". Urging the release of prisoners, he said after the meeting: "All European institutions should rethink their relations with Belarus. After 19 December the situation has changed. Our relations should reflect that." (