On 23 July, senior officials from the EU and Belarus held an ad hoc meeting in Brussels. The discussions focused on human rights and democracy in the context of the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August.
The EU reiterated its concerns over Belarus’s lack of observance of fundamental freedoms and the seemingly arbitrary exclusion of candidates from the electoral process. The EU called on the country to release all arbitrarily detained political activists to ensure their access to legal counsel, as well as for fair, impartial and transparent investigation in all cases.
The EU also said it regretted that the country did not extend in due time an invitation to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and urged Belarus to respect international election standards throughout the rest of the electoral process.
The EU referred to its support to Belarus and its citizens within the framework of the ‘Team Europe’ response to COVID-19, including the first delivery of medical equipment, which took place on 22 June, as well as its support to vulnerable groups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Both sides also discussed the state of play in the negotiations of the EU–Belarus Partnership Priorities, an important means of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
The EU delegation was led by Luc Pierre Devigne, acting managing director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service. The delegation of Belarus was led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Kravchenko.
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