The European Union is especially concerned by the growing oppression of the political opposition forces, civil society, trade unions and independent media in Belarus.
The EU condemns the arrests and politically motivated trials, particularly of Messrs Skrebets, Statkevich, Severinets, Klimov, Bandajevski, Marinitch, Levonevski and
Vasiljev. The EU calls for respect for the rule of law and the immediate release of the abovenamed persons. The EU sees these actions as attempts by the regime to eliminate potential opponents of President Lukashenko in the run-up to the forthcoming presidential elections.
The EU regrets the increasing use of anti-western language in state-controlled media and in public statements. It is perturbed by Belarus's isolationist tendencies.
The EU also notes with dismay the regime's increasing attempts to disrupt the activities of political parties and NGOs.
The EU appeals to Belarus's leaders to put an end to these actions, which constitute an obstacle to the development of relations between the EU and Belarus.
The EU reiterates its readiness to enter into dialogue with Belarus on the gradual development of bilateral relations as soon as the Belarus authorities have demonstrated
through specific action a sincere willingness to resume dialogue with the international community.
The EU recalls its commitment to assist civil society and the people of Belarus and will continue dialogue on the adoption of possible additional measures to that end.
"The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia *, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential
candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and
Norway, members of the European Economic Area, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration."
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.