European Parliament President welcomes EU sanctions against Belarus

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has welcomed yesterday's decision by the EU Foreign Ministers to impose travel restrictions and an asset freeze against Belarusian officials, and underlined the move was not against the Belarusian people.

"These targeted sanctions are applied only to those that have undermined core democratic values," said Buzek, adding the EU "stood on the side" of the Belarusian people by pledging to increase assistance to civil society and to look for ways of facilitating a visa regime for the citizens of Belarus. The European Union is ready to cooperate but real moves towards democracy are needed, said Buzek.

Buzek urged the Belarusian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally "all those detained during the election and in its aftermath, including the prisoners of conscience."

The European Parliament President deplored the conditions in which some of the opposition activists had been released, calling unacceptable measures like house arrest and close KGB surveillance. "Freedom cannot be rationed and conditioned!" said Buzek, adding: "Human rights and democracy must be embraced. Genuine dialogue, for real change, has to be open. We are all witnessing what is happening today in North Africa and there is only one conclusion: there is no long term stability without democracy."


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