First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg met representatives of the Belarusian opposition at the Czernin Palace on Monday, January 10, 2010.
The meeting took place in the shadow of violent action by the Belarusian authorities against the Belarusian opposition and detention of opposition ctivists after elections in December last year. The Czech Republic is concerned about the situation and considers it essential the European Union to clearly respond to the repression. Although the dialogue of the European Union and Belarus will continue, it cannot have the same form as before the Belarusian election.
Within the European Union, the Czech Republic supports the negotiations on visa facilitation. The Czech Republic provides up to 25% of Schengen visas free of charge for Belarusian citizens. It will continue to do so in the future and will explore options to simplify travelling for ordinary Belarusians.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic will continue to support projects for civil society and independent media, such as the European Radio for Belarus. The Ministry explores other possibilities to support civil society in Belarus, which will be consulted with Czech non-governmental organizations.