Letter sent to the Presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament - Presidents von der Leyen, Michel and Sassoli.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Pan-European Regional Council (PERC) appreciate the recent EU High-Representative declarations on Belarus situation, welcome the result of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers agreeing smart sanctions on the Lukashenko regime and the announcement of the President of the EU Council for an extraordinary summit to be held on Wednesday 19 August. We call on the European Union for a strong and unequivocal reaction and for a reassessment of the relations with Belarus, in line with the EU values and principles.
We have no illusions about the nature of the Belarusian regime - we are in contact with our colleagues of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions and support their longstanding fight for the respect of workers and trade union rights and freedom in the country. While the release of political prisoners was enough for some EU officials to turn a new page in the relations with Belarus, it was clear that the regime was not, and is not, open to any real change. It has continued suppressing democratic institutions, independent civil society and trade union movement and has violated fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens. The recent electoral campaign and the following new wave of repressions have clearly shown this.
The European trade union movement therefore jointly urges the European Union to assess the Belarusian authority’s actions and review the EU relations with Belarus. This includes the reintroduction of commensurate sanctions for electoral fraud and violence as well as reconsidering cooperation with the country, including within the Eastern Partnership. Strengthening support to Belarusian civil society - including independent unions - and stopping any EU financial support to the government and state-controlled projects - including through multilateral development banks – must also be urgently addressed.
We have to support the demands of people of Belarus, Belarusian independent trade unions and civil society. The Belarusian people do not recognize Lukashenko as the legally elected president, and mass protests have begun throughout the country. Increasing number of labour strikes that are already taking place in major state companies show the growing political activity of the workers. We also support demands to release everyone who was placed in isolation wards and prisons from 9th of August onwards for political reasons and denounce any retaliation, including dismissals, for joining peaceful protests.
Luca Visentini, ETUC and PERC General Secretary