By Tim King
Parliament's president seeks to maintain pressure on Alyaksandr Lukashenka after repression of opposition.
Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament, has announced a meeting of MEPs in the New Year to consider the presidential election in Belarus and the accompanying crack-down on opposition politicians.
It will be a joint meeting of the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, the sub-committee on human rights, the delegation to Belarus and the delegation to the Eastern Partnership.
The meeting will be held in Brussels on the afternoon of 12 January, the Wednesday of the first week that MEPs are back at work after New Year.
There are other committee meetings scheduled for the Monday and Thursday, but the intervening days had been reserved for meetings of the political groups.
The arrests in the immediate aftermath of the presidential election on Sunday (19 December) of candidates who stood against Alyaksandr Lukashenka and of their supporters provoked condemnation at the beginning of this week from European Union leaders, including Buzek and Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief.
Buzek said: "It is important that we maintain pressure on the Lukashenko government at the highest levels."
He said MEPs would discuss "the conduct and aftermath of the presidential elections including the excessive and disproportionate forces by the Belarusian authorities, the beating and detention of opposition presidential candidates and violence against journalists and civil society activists".
He said MEPs would also consider "possible further responses from the side of the European Union".