PACE President will visit Belarus to encourage democratic developments

Strasbourg, 11.01.2007 - Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President René van der Linden will visit Belarus from 18 to 20 January 2007 to engage in a dialogue with the authorities, the opposition and civil society - including students - with a view to encouraging democratic developments and promoting Council of Europe values in the country. 

Mr van der Linden will address the main concerns of the Parliamentary Assembly with regard to Belarus, including the functioning of the opposition, imprisonments for allegedly political reasons, freedom of expression and the death penalty. He will also identify areas and methods of possible concrete assistance programmes to Belarus.

PACE’s President will meet with Gennady Novitsky, Chairman of the Council of the Republic, and Vladimir Konoplev, Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as Sergey Martynov, Minister for Foreign Affairs. He will also meet with representatives of the opposition, NGOs, civil society and the media.
Belarus is not a member state of the Council of Europe. The PACE Bureau suspended the Special Guest Status of the Belarusian Parliament on 13 January 1997.

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Mr van der Linden will give press conferences on:

• 16 January 2007, in Strasbourg, at 2.30 p.m. (Palais de l’Europe, Room 1)
• 19 January 2007, in Minsk, at 3 p.m. (place to confirmed)
Contact: PACE Communication Unit, tel:+33 3 88 41 31 93,