On the invitation of the Office for a Democratic Belarus and the Slovak foundation Pontis, delegation of young Belarusian pro-democracy activists visited Brussels on June 12-14. Among participants were two co-chairmen of the Belarusian Christian-Democracy, Aliaksei Shein and Vital Rymasheuski, as well as chairman of the Belarusian Party of Greens Aleh Novikau.
The program of the visit included meetings with representatives of the EU institutions, missions of the EU countries based in Brussels, various human rights groups and the Belarusian diaspora in Belgium. One of the main aims of the visit was for the Belarusian parties to establish stronger ties with their respective European counterparts.
Among topics being actively discussed were such as the ongoing dialogue between the European Union and the Belarusian authorities and possible scenarios of its development; questions of further human rights violations in Belarus, especially restriction of freedom of conscience and increased repressions against religious groups. Removal of Belarus from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the state of reformist forces in the country after the second congress of democratic forces are cases that raised a lot of interest on both sides.
Young Belarusian leaders had an opportunity to hold a meeting with H.E. Adrian Severin, current rapporteur on the situation in Belarus at the UN Human Rights Council. The meeting took place on the day after Mr. Severin presented his report on Belarus in Geneva.
Members of the European Parliament, when talking with the delegation, expressed their concern over the lack of unity among the opposition forces and the inability of the latter to properly use the capital gathered during the presidential election campaign in March 2006.
In addition to the meetings, Belarusian activists had an opportunity to participate in a conference “Belarus and the European Neighbourhood Policy”, which was organized by stagiers of the European Commission on June 12 and gather a great number of attendees interested in the situation in Belarus. Among speakers at the event was former vice-president of the European Parliament, member of the delegation on relations with Belarus Dr. Janusz Onyzskiewicz, Deputy Head of Unit for Relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus from the DG RELEX of the European Commission Ms Madeleine Majorenko, and the director of the Office for a Democratic Belarus in Brussels Olga Stuzhinskaya.
The Office for a Democratic Belarus, the Pontis foundation and the Belarusian group of activists express their sincere gratitude to the government of Slovakia and the permanent mission of the Slovak Republic to the European Union for their support in organizing the visit.