Dedicated committees of the European Parliament have prepared a resolution on Belarus that is expected to be adopted next week. It becomes thereby apparent that Europe's stand on the Belarusian issue is steadily taking shape.
In his speech at a joint session of several committees on the situation in Belarus, European Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek said the Lukashenko government "clearly lacks democratic legitimacy".
The hearings were attended by Belarusian opposition members, including Alexander Milinkevich, the winner of European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. He called on the European Union to exert targeted, explicit and forceful pressure on official Minsk.
Among other things, Mr. Milinkevich pointed to the necessity of expanding the list of Belarusian nomenclature representatives, who are currently banned from entering any country of the EU.
The politician also urged distinguishing between the two "Belaruses" - the repressive totalitarian power on the one hand and its citizens, who deserve a policy of more openness from Europe on the other. This policy implies, above all, visa regime liberalization, support to civil society and mass media, as well as student exchanges. All this will show Europe's openness towards the people of Belarus, who should be recognized as Europeans as well, the oppositionist said.
Sanctions against Belarus, which were suspended by the EU in 2008 but may be reinstated at any time, deny entry to EU member-states to Belarusian government members and President Alexander Lukashenko in particular, and freeze any of their bank accounts at European banks.
Head of the Center for the Study of Social and Political Processes in the Post-Soviet Space Alexei Vlasov has this to say on the issue:
"Measures that restrict the top Belarusian leadership's entry to EU countries, as well as their financial wheeling and dealing are the only possible way for the sanction regime. Such sanctions will be targeted and won't affect the interests of Belarus as a state," Alexei Vlasov said.
In the course of committee debates, members of the European Parliament outlined the main features of the resolution to be adopted next week. It prescribes for EU executive bodies to follow a sort of a "double track", exerting political pressure on the republic's government right down to targeted sanctions, while simultaneously providing every possible support to civil society, including visa facilitation for particular categories of people.
The decision concerning sanctions against Minsk may be adopted at the upcoming EU Council meeting on January 31st.