PACE President Calls On Belarus To Come Closer To European Structures

Rene van der Linden, the president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), on April 17 urged Minsk to "show your good will and show that you want to become at last a member of the European family," Belapan reported. Van der Linden said he is "not in favor" of Belarus's isolation, adding that it is "very bad for both sides." Van der Linden said that both Europe and Belarus should give "clear signs" of their readiness for cooperation. One of these signs, he continued, would be Minsk's consent to the assessment of the question of political prisoners in Belarus by international experts. Van der Linden described as "absolutely unacceptable" the detention and the persecution of five members of Youth Front movement. "I believe that the Belarusian government will cease to imprison those who only express their opinions and take part in demonstrations. It would be a good sign of the readiness for the cooperation," Van der Linden said. AM