PACE President welcomes EU Presidency’s change of heart on isolating Belarus

Strasbourg, 13.07.2006 – The President of the Parliamentary Assembly, René van der Linden, today made the following statement:

“I welcome yesterday’s change of heart on Belarus by the EU Presidency, as expressed by the Finnish Foreign Minister, which has recognised that its policy of isolation has not worked. As I have said before, even if we have profound differences with Belarus – the only European country that does not merit membership of the Council of Europe – I believe the only way to improve things is through dialogue.

“The Finnish Presidency of the 25-nation EU and the Russian Presidency of the 46-nation Council of Europe can work together to foster that dialogue. Furthermore, I am ready to go to Belarus if it will help this country on its path to democracy.”