European Council approves Polish plan for Belarus - PM

2020-10-02 11:12 update: 2020-10-02, 18:46
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET
The European Council at its extraordinary two-day summit that started in Brussels on Thursday approved the Polish plan for economic support for a democratic Belarus, PM Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Friday morning.

"I'm very pleased to say that yesterday, after a very long debate, the European Council approved the economic plan for a democratic Belarus that we had put forward," Morawiecki said.

"It was a consequence of our actions over the past few weeks. First, we presented the plan to our partners from the Visegrad Group (V4) in Ljubljana, then, a week ago, we presented the plan at the European Commission to President Ursula von der Leyen, and (now - PAP) she was also tasked by the European Commission, which has been put into the (summit - PAP) conclusions, to further develop the plan and present it for execution in the following months," the Polish prime minister said.

The Central European lobby group V4 comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Morawiecki said the plan must support democratic changes in Belarus.

"We want to also involve in this plan international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and, in particular, European institutions: the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank," the Polish prime minister said.

"Given the difficult situation in Belarus, we should be satisfied that the whole European Council agreed to such an economic plan, because it is a positive offer for Belarusian society," Morawiecki also said, thanking his V4 partners for their involvement.

The European Council on Thursday also made a decision to implement sanctions on Belarusian officials, but the list does not include President Alexander Lukashenko. The Council also condemned the violence, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions by Belarusian authorities against peaceful demonstrators who contest the August presidential election results, according to which strongman Lukashenko won yet another term of office as president. The EU does not recognise the result as valid.

The Council called upon the Belarusian government to put an end to the violence and repression, to release all those who are detained and political prisoners, to respect the freedom of the media and the civil society, as well as to begin a dialogue.

The V4 economic plan envisages the creation of a EUR 1 bln stabilisation fund, support for small and medium-sized companies, opening of the EU's single market to Belarusian companies and visa facilitations.

Other points of the plan include long-term infrastructure investments, negotiations of a new framework agreement with an economic angle, support for Belarusian energy security and sector reforms.

Belarus has been torn by protests since the August 9 presidential election, in which Lukashenko won a 6th term in office with 80.1 percent of the vote against main contender Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's 10.1 percent. Mass demonstrations against what is held to have been a rigged vote have been continuing ever since, sparking brutal reactions from the police and security forces. (PAP)