Hans-Gert Pottering: I stand for sanctions in any case
10:49, — Politics
While the people of Belarus do not live freely, regime’s officials should not have the freedom to move around Europe.
The head of the Adenauer foundation, an MEP Hans-Gert Pottering shared the opinion when communicating with Belarusian journalists in Vilnius on 29 October, BelaPAN reports.
We would remind that the European Union has prolonged the sanctions against Belarus for another year. On the eve of that the head of the EU representation office in Minsk Maira Mora reported that three new names would be added to the sanctions list, whereas 13 people and five enterprises would be crossed off.
According to Pottering, sanctions “should not harm a common person, but regime’s political leaders should not have advantages in the current conditions”. “In any case I stand for sanctions against the leaders of the Belarusian regime”, - he emphasized.
When asked how he assessed EU’s certain member-states, which under the pressure of business representatives spoke in favor of lifting sanctions from Belarusian businessmen, included in the EU’s black list, the MEP and Adenauer foundation’s head replied: “For me democratic values – freedom, dignity and human rights, rule of law, democracy – are always a priority over economic interests”.
At the same time Pottering highlighted that every particular case of the businessmen listed should be examined separately. “If a certain major businessman is solidary with the Lukashenka regime, supports it, I stand for sanctions to be in place against him, - he said. – But if a businessman tries to escape Lukashenka’s embrace, distance from his policy, I would consider every such case separately and took respective decisions”.
Speaking of the Eastern Partnership summit scheduled to take place in late November in Vilnius, Pottering emphasized the importance for “all the EU representatives to clearly send one important demand to the Belarusian party: political prisoners should be released and exonerated”. “It is important for the EU to express itself clearly, when it is the matter of freedom and democracy, - the MEP is convinced. – Our goal is for Belarus to become a free country in the near, I hope, future. In the past we already hoped that the regime would turn to reforms and democracy, but the hopes did not come true”.
Answering to the question who, in his opinion, should participate in the summit in Vilnius on the Belarusian side, Pottering said: “I cannot imagine that it was represented by the so-called president. In the current conditions it would be adequate for someone from the government to represent the country”.
Commenting on statements by some experts and politicians that pressure on Belarus on the part of the EU pushes the country into integration with Russia, Pottering noted: “Belarus should make its choice itself. Several years ago there was hope that Lukashenka would gradually open up to the EU, but this did not happen. Now Lukashenka has made the choice in favor of the Eurasian Economic Union, has supported Putin’s idea. I think, when he leaves, Belarus’ new government will get closer to Europe”.
From January 2007 to June 2009 Pottering was the chairman of the European Parliament. Since 4 December 2009 he has been the head of the Adenauer foundation. In February 2010 the European politician visited Minsk.
In turn, the head of the Belarusian representation of the Adenauer foundation Alexander Brakel highlighted that the foundation did not support the opposition financially: “Konrad Adenauer foundation does not support Belarusian opposition financially like Aliaksandr Lukashenka claimed”. “The numbers, sometimes stated by the state media in Belarus, - I would like to possess such amounts, but we, unfortunately, do not have them”, - he stated.
Brakel explained that the foundation provided assistance to oppositional political parties in Belarus by the means of consultations, trainings and education, as well as provides them with an opportunity to exchange experience with colleagues from Germany. “We help them become more professional, in order for fair political competition, provided by the Belarusian Constitution, could once take place, - Brakel said. – We also organize media trainings for them, where they learn how to use the existing opportunities, albeit limited, of accessing state media in order to present their position to people”.
Apart from that, the head of the foundation’s office, Adenauer foundation’s employees “put a lot of effort for the Belarusian issue to remain on the European agenda”.
Brakel highlighted that the foundation did not do “anything illegal or criminal”. “However, we are, unfortunately, deprived of the possibility to operate in Belarus”, - he added. The foundation was established in 1955 for carrying our Christian democratic enlightenment and educational work. Since 1964 it has been name after Germany’s first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. It deals with political education in Germany and abroad, stands for the strengthening of the European integration, contributes to the development of arts and culture.
Belarusian office of the foundation has been operating since April 2007 with its office in Lithuania. As the office’s web-site states, due to the current political situation in Belarus the foundation’s operations are limited in Belarus. “The application for registering the foundation in Belarus, submitted in 2004, has not yet been approved by the authorities, - the statement says. – The foundation intends to open an office in Minsk. When the political situation in the country changes to the extent that the foundation’s presence in the country can be considered, the office may be relocated from Vilnius to Minsk”.
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