The decision regarding Belarus adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe drew unfavourable comments from Belarusian diplomatic services. Also the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs criticized the Council’s resolution.
The function of the Council of Europe, an advisory body without legislative authority, is solely to review particular issues through its documents. Therefore, in this context, the resolution entitled “The situation in Belarus” – in which the Parliamentary Assembly is encouraging Minsk to reform and to respect human rights – should be interpreted. The document reads an appeal of member states of the Council to heighten pressure on Alexander’s Lukashenko’s regime and to apply sanctions
Shortly after its publishing, the resolution met with a commentary from spokesperson of the Belarusian MFA Andrei Savinykh. The diplomatic representative focused on criticism towards Estonian politician Andres Herkle, the author of the report “On situation…”, upon which the Council’s document had been prepared. Savinykh noted that Herkel had not been lately in Belarus, and his knowledge is based upon questionable Internet sources that challenged the validity of both the report and the resolution. Herkel himself, who has been monitoring situation in Belarus since 2006, explained in an interview for Radio Svoboda that he had applied for a visa a long time ago, and that Belarusian authorities are making his visit in this country impossible intentionally.
The Council’s decision was also criticised by Grigoriy Karasin, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia.“Russian diplomats are always advising our western partners that policy of sanctions leads to situations with no way out. We advocate rather maintaining contacts and solving problems in the spirit of openness and transparency”, said Karasin at a press conference held on 30 January in Minsk.
Translated by KD