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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: We Must Continue to Put Pressure on Belarusian Authorities Until State Stops Restricting Human Rights and Civil Freedoms


No. 23-E

While meeting with Belarusian opposition leader Ales Michalevic in Tallinn today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet noted that the European Union must continue its double-sided policy towards Belarus, which places restrictive sanctions in order to influence the regime while also supporting the democratic forces in Belarus.

The foreign minister stated that the European Union would continue to put pressure on the central authorities in Belarus so that restrictions on human rights and civil freedoms in the country would come to an end. “The unconditional release and rehabilitation of political prisoners in Belarus is still a prerequisite for resuming a dialogue with the European Union,” he said. Paet added that at the upcoming meeting of the European Union foreign ministers in February, new conclusions would be taken regarding harsher sanctions against Belarus.

Foreign Minister Paet also noted that it is still important to support civil society, free media, and the opposition in Belarus. Progress should also be made on preparations for a visa facilitation and readmission agreement. “It is also Estonia's goal to continue supporting civil society in Belarus in any way possible, plus we would like to increase the support given to civil society within the framework of development co-operation,” he said.

Estonia supports the work of the Belarusian European Humanitarian University in Vilnius. We also support the civil society of Belarus through the Centre of Eastern Partnership in Tallinn. “We welcome Belarusians to participate in the courses offered by the Eastern Partnership Centre and give out scholarships for university students from Belarus to study in Estonia. We also have plans this year to provide training to representatives of Belarusian civil society in the areas of e-government, involvement, and cyber security,” said Paet.

Photo from the meeting:

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