Conference on Belarus looks ahead to election

Strasbourg, 15.02.2006 – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs are organising a conference on Belarus in Prague on Thursday 23 February, in the run-up to the presidential election, which will be taking place in that country on 19 March.

The conference will be opened by the President of the PACE, René van der Linden, and the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cyril Svoboda, on 23 February at 9am. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Cernin Palace, Grand Hall, Loretanske namesti 5, Prague). It will be open to the press.

The discussions will be divided into two parts. The morning session will cover the situation in Belarus in the run-up to the election; the afternoon session will be devoted to the place of Belarus in democratic Europe and strategies to bolster the democratisation process.

There will be some fifty participants, including representatives of the opposition in Belarus, Stanislas Sushkeich, Syarhei Kalyakin, Anatoly Lebedko and Vintsuk Viachorka, and also ministers, parliamentarians and representatives of international organisations and civil society.

A press conference is organised on 23 February from 12.00 to 12.30pm (Cernin Palace, Grand Hall, Loretanske namesti 5, Prague).

On the day before, Wednesday 22 February, the PACE President, René van der Linden, will have talks with representatives of the Czech authorities, including the President of the Senate, Premysl Sobotka, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cyril Svoboda. He will also meet the Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies, Vladimir Lastuvka, and the Senate, Josef Jarab, and will attend a meeting with the members of the latter committee.

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