Belarussian opposition leader criticises EU's approach

Prague- Belarussian opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich criticised the EU's approach to the situation in Belarus in a discussion meeting within the Forum 2000 international conference of world personalities in Prague today.

The EU has not found ways to support the opposition in Belarus. Neither has it found any political mechanisms, Milinkevich said.

He pointed to Belarussian visas in relation to EU countries as an important problem.

Milinkevich was the main rival of authoritarian Belarussian president Alexandr Lukashenko in the country's presidential elections in March. He spent two weeks in prison in April, sentenced for his participation in a banned rally. This year he has been nominated for the Andrei Sakharov Prize the EP awards for human rights promotion.

Milinkevich said today that the united Europe is able to efficiently help the countries that follow the democratic path. However, in face of dictatorship, the EU has completely lost its strength, he said.

"Brussels has not yet found ways to support the Belarussian opposition," he added.

He compared the situation in Belarus to that in Poland in the 1980s. "The Polish Solidarity then enjoyed [the West's] support, he said, referring to the Solidarity movement, the ever first independent trade union in a communist country.

Bronislaw Geremek, former Polish foreign minister and current MEP, there has been no cooperation in the EP on the Belarussian issue, and the problem has been highlighted by Poland and the Baltic countries only.

Geremek said he would like the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to join the campaign against Lukashenko's regime. The countries' joint pressure could help launch a radio station broadcasting in the Belarussian language for Belarus, he said.

The above mentioned EU countries should also jointly strive for the EU to cancel the payments Belarussians pay for visas or to reduce them only to a symbolic sum, Geremek continued.

Author: CTK.