Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Belarus

Delivered in Plenary - 19th January 2011

Mr President

The election for the Presidency in Belarus proved to be gravely disappointing for those of us who have been watching that country for a number of years. I met the Belarusian Ambassador in London, who reassured me that this time it would all be different, that it would be up to international standards and that the OSCE would be able to say that it was fair and free.

Unfortunately, the Homo Sovieticus instincts of Lukashenko proved more enduring than anything else. His maverick behaviour was not predicted by his own senior officials, including his ambassadors. I too now join the call to release all political prisoners immediately and to re-run the elections with a long-term EU observation mission in place and with the OSCE’s full agreement that it meets all the standards required for it to be essentially free and fair.

It is highly unlikely that Minsk will agree, but we must at least try. Otherwise, there must be an immediate reimposition of enhanced, targeted sanctions, freezes of Mr Lukashenko’s assets – if we can find them – and travel bans on him and all his senior officials.