Issue 67

Letter of EaP Civil Society Forum for Ales Bialiacki addressed to EU Commissioner Stefan Fuele

To all participants of the EaP Civil Society Forum To EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, H.E. Štefan Füle

29th of August 2011

We, the participants of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, many of whom personally know Mr. Ales Bialacki during many years of joint work as honest, dedicated human rights activist serving the ideals of human rights and democracy, would like to state:

  1. Ales Bialacki is innocent and therefore he must be immediately and unconditionally released.
  2. Ales Bialacki, due to well known restrictions on human rights activities inBelarus, was forced to receive grants from official human-rights foundations on private accounts. All these money were justified by grant agreements, accounted and reported back to donors. It was not possible to receive these grants officially in Belarus, as Human Rights Center “Viasna” was closed due to their human rights activities. The closure was assessed as illegal by the UN Human Rights Committee. After the closure 3 attempts to re-register organization were prevented by official structures. Without official organizational account on Belarus, Viasna was able to continue its activity thanks to support of human rights defenders organizations from the whole world. Accusation on violation of law on taxation by possession and usage of personal accounts in EU countries for domestic HR activities is used to complicate human rights organizations’ activities in Belarus. Taking into account strong cynical propaganda campaign against Bialacki carried out by official Belarus structures and anticipating the consequences of sending confidential information about bank account statements to non-democratic regime, where this information was used against human rights defenders, we warn European governments that such situation can be repeatedly used against other HR activists.
  3. We turn the attention of EU countries’ governments to the possibility of repeating similar actions against human rights and civil activists as well as independent journalists not only in Belarus, but also in other countries where democratic institutions and rule of law failed to become irreversible. 
  4. We remind that Eastern Partnership was launched for the sake of values such as democracy, human rights, transparency and accountability of governments. It was supposed that EaP programs would enhance spreading of humanistic values throughoutEurope. The establishment of Civil Society Forum would serve increased cooperation among EU democratic governments and those countries that are on the way to build democracy. We feel that it is necessary to involve civil society structures in the shaping of ways of communication between governmental officials of EU /EU countries and Belarus. The proposals on obligatory participation of CSOs in all the four platforms of EaP were expressed by CSOs at the beginning of EaP.
  5. The civil society organizations demand immediate release of Mr. Bialacki from the prison and cancellation of case against him. This case has clearly political dimension. EU member states should share responsibility for Ales Bialacki’s destiny. In our opinion, this precedent should be also taken into account for correction of EU policy towardsBelarusas a part of EaP program. We feel that it is necessary simultaneously put all efforts through actions to free Mr. Bialacki and other political prisoners, which should not be present in countries which signed Joint Declaration on establishing of Eastern Partnership.

Signatures:

  1. Tevan Poghosyan, International Center for Human Development
  2. Iulia Kharashvili, Chairperson, IDP Women Association  “Consent”
  3. Vache Kalashyan, UAGE president, “Union of Armenian government employees” NGO
  4. Viktoriia Gnatenko, All-Ukrainian Liberal Youth Organization ‘European Youth of Ukraine’
  5. Artak Kirakosyan, General Secretary FIDH, Chairman of the Board, Civil Society Institute
  6. Vytis Jurkonis, Eastern Europe Studies Centre (Vilnius, Lithuania)
  7. Oksana Voloshenuk, Academu of Ukrainian press Director
  8. Andriy Kohut, Civic Assembly of Ukraine
  9. Tamara Mackievic, National Public Association “Belarusian School Society”
  10. Sergey Varankevich, Youth NGO ‘Civil Forum’, Belarus
  11. Tatiana Poshevalova, Centre for Social Innovations, Belarus
  12. Dzianis Melyantsou, Tatiana Kuzina, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies
  13. Dmitrij Karpievich, Education Centre “POST”, Belarus
  14. Olga Dzhuzha, Integration and Development Center Simferopol, Ukraine
  15. Nouneh Sarkissian, Internews Armenia
  16. Armine Tukhikyan, Urban Foundation, Armenia
  17. Ion Manole, Promo-LEX Association
  18. Ucha Vakhania, MD Executive Director, Coalition Home care in Georgia
  19. Antonita Fonari, Executive Director of  Resources Centre “Young and Free”
  20. Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, DEVAMM
  21. Wojciech Przybylski, ResPublica Nowa, Poland
  22. Leonid Litra, IDIS, Moldova
  23. Philipp Dietachmair, European Cultural Foundation, The Netherlands
  24. Viktor Yengibaryan, European Movement, Armenia
  25. Petru Botnaru, President NGO “Terra-1530”, Editor publication “Adevarul” (Truth)
  26. Ivan Gerevich, ADVANCE Transcarpathian Advocacy and Development Centre
  27. Boris Navasardyan, President, Yerevan Press Club
  28. Vera Rihackova, Senior Research Fellow, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy
  29. Dr. Iris Kempe, Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation –South Caucasus
  30. Antonella Valmorbida, Director, ALDA
  31. Jeff Lovitt, Executive Director,  PASOS (Policy Association for an Open Society)
  32. Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman, Helsinki Committee of Armenia
  33. Nino Lapiashvili, Director, Institute for European Studies,Tbilisi State University
  34. Ivan Voleš, The European Economic and Social Committee
  35. Ulad Vialichka, International Consortium EUROBELARUS
  36. Elena Tonkacheva, Olga Smolianko, Galina Cherepok, Aleksei Kozliuk, Mikhail Matskevich, Elena Kovaleva, Olga Domorad, Mikhail Pashkevich, Oleg Fedotov, Legal Transformation Centre, Belarus
  37. Olga Karatch, Centre of Civil Initiatives “Our House”
  38. Aleksander Adamiants, Centre of European Studies, Belarus
  39. Dina Shavtsova, Civil Initiative “For Religious Freedom”
  40. Siarhei Drazdouski, Enira Bronitskaya, Office on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Belarus
  41. Andrei Yahorau, Centre for European Transformation, Belarus
  42. Uladzimir Matskevich, Humanitarian Technologies Agency
  43. Irina Sukhy, Public Association “Ecohome”
  44. Antonina Yelistratova, Youth association “Next Stop — New Life”
  45. Miraslau Kobasa, Enlightening Public Association “Leu Sapieha Foundation”
  46. Vlad Kobets, European Belarus Civil campaign
  47. Olga Stuzhinskaya, Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels)
  48. Iryna Vidanava, 34 Multimedia Magazine
  49. Iryna Zhykhar, National Public Association “Belarusian Organization of Working Women”
  50. Aliaksandr Milinkevich, Alaksandr Łahviniec, Yuras Hubarevich, Movement for Freedom, Belarus
  51. Ihar Lalkou, Belarusian Popular Front “Adradzhenne”
  52. Yaroslav Bekish, Nastasia Haliak, Green Alliance-Belarus
  53. Maryna Adamovich, wife of political prisoner, ex-candidate for presidency  Mikalai Statkevich
  54. Oleksandr Sushko, IEAC Research Director, Ukraine

New EUSR for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia to visit Armenia

Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Armenia
01.09.2011

The new European Union Special Representative (EUSR) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, Ambassador Philippe Lefort, will be in Armenia on 7 September as part of his first visit to the region. During his stay in Yerevan, Ambassador Lefort is expected to meet the President of the Republic of Armenia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence, the Secretary of the National Security Council, the Speaker of Parliament and the Chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Relations.

Philippe Lefort is a French diplomat of more than 20 years’ experience. He has devoted large parts of his career to the Caucasus and Russia, among other things as French Ambassador in Georgia (2004-2007) and as Deputy Head of Mission at the French Embassy in Russia (2007-2010). Since 2010, he has been the Head of Continental Europe General Directorate at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. On 1 September 2011, Ambassador Lefort started his duties as new EUSR for the South Caucasus.

 

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