Jacek Saryusz – Wolski: The situation of political prisoners in Belarus is pivotal

Until the  release and rehabilitation of political prisoners in Belarus, there can be no normalization of relations between Brussels and Minsk. Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, member of the Delegation for relations with Belarus and Vice-Chair of the Euronest Assembly gave an exclusive interview to Palitviazni.info.

Jacek Saryusz – Wolski: The situation of political prisoners in Belarus is indeed pivotal. The Belarusian authorities should not wait until Europe opens its doors, and starts a dialogue with them. Official contacts between Minsk and Brussels will not exist until the political prisoners are not released. Not only the release of political prisoners will be a trigger of changes, they also have to be fully rehabilitated.

– How often European Parliament makes Minsk to realize it?

Jacek Saryusz – Wolski: Currently, European Parliament does not have any contacts with the authorities of Belarus. It is expected that the November summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius will be attended by  the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Uladzimir Makey. Currently, the only contacts are made at the level of the embassy in Minsk. The Belarusian authorities are well aware about our position. It was presented more than once by the European Commission and the European Parliament, albeit unilaterally.

– Would you say that the current initiative to develop relations with the European Union is on the side of Belarus? Is freezing sanctions against Belarusian foreign minister a proof of that fact? Do you expect the Belarusian authorities to release political prisoners in return?

Jacek Saryusz – Wolski: We’ve been waiting quite a long time for such a move on the part of Minsk. Freezing sanctions against Makey does not mean we have changed our expectations. The release of all political prisoners  is the main point. As for sanctions, it’s just a technical move. For some reasons we cannot have a direct, proper and fruitful dialogue with the authorities of that country. But even in the days when Sergei Martynov was Foreign Minister, it was a general practice in the European Union to have contacts at this level. To sum up, the sanctions were suspended not against a man – Vladimir Makey, but against an official, who serves as an intermediary  in implementation of  claims and establishing proper dialogue. Will it deliver results, will the political prisoners be released? We do want it, it is an ultimate aim. So far, we see that the situation of human rights does not change, and is even getting worse.

– Why do you think that the Belarusian authorities are in no hurry to normalize dialogue with the European Union, why they do not listen to the demands?

Jacek Saryusz – Wolski: Firstly, the official Minsk does not understand what is losing! Secondly, it seems to me that in Belarus, Lukashenko has still quite high support on the part of the people, so he does not need to make similar gestures in the direction of the EU. Hence we see the tightrope dance between Moscow and Brussels in the absence of  a good will to change such policy. It is a kind of philosophy of life, or a method for survival of the political regime.



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Other political prisoners