The process of relations improvement of Minsk and Brussels may go on without structural reforms in Belarus.
Such an opinion came in an interview to BelaPAN from a former political prisoner, human rights activist Ales Bialatski, who visited a number of the EU countries in early July and met representatives of the EU institutions.
“We must bring up this issue and try to participate in this process, - the human rights activist is convinced. – This process is, of course, much more complicated than a black and white situation, when everything is frozen and nothing moves. The situation of such a thaw raises a significantly greater question for the activists of Belarusian civil society. We must answer these questions, we must move forward. We must not sit in one place and wait”.
According to Bialatski, we must not allow for “the situation in Belarus to get Azerbaijanized”, when contacts with Europe get established, while the situation remains bad within the country. In particular, he pointed out that Azerbaijan is now presiding in the Council of Europe. “A country full of political prisoners, in which human rights are violated, presides over a European institution, created specifically for protection of human rights and establishing an atmosphere of security, cooperation, increased standards of living. There cannot be any double standards”, - Bialatski emphasized.
He assumes that official Minsk would want to improve the relations with the EU, first of all in the economic domain, without making changes to the political situation in the country. “Thus must not be allowed. Assistance or any contacts of the EU with Belarus must be closely linked to the improvement of the civic and political situation in the country and release of political prisoners”, - Bialatski is convinced.
According to the human rights activist, today in the EU they better understand the situation in Belarus and take it more seriously than ten years ago. “Then few knew of Belarus in Europe, and every time we had to explain elementary things. Now there is no need for that anymore. There are many politicians and officials in Europe, who understand what is going on in our Belarus and have large amounts of information”, - the human rights activist said.
Bialatski believes that the rapprochement in the relations of Belarus and the EU in 2008 was beneficial to the country: “If we recollect that time, then we’ll see that the activation of these contacts significantly improved the situation in the Belarusian society. The level of fear was fairly low, a large number of civic and political actions took place, the civic and political life was, let’s say, not so miserable as now”.
Speaking of the situation after the 2010 presidential elections – the brutal crackdown on the protest manifestation in Minsk and the followed repressions against civic activists - Bialatski called it a catastrophe and shock, from which the Belarusian society has not been able to recover still. This dead-end situation, in his opinion, leads to "stagnation in the society”, out of which there is no exit without the improvement of Belarus’ relations with the EU and the atmosphere within the country.
Belarusians should not hope for someone else to solve the problems with human rights and democracy that exist in the country, the human rights activist is convinced. “It sounds trite, but it is actually true: Belarusians thmselves must achieve certain changes in the society. We will have a certain moral support from the civilized and better democratically developed countries, but no one will cook the pie or soup for us”, - Ales Bialatski emphasized.