EU zet druk op Belarus
Belarus police forces on Tuesday (4 September) detained some 15 activists of an opposition movement called Youth Front (Malady Front), who were protesting outside a courthouse in Salihorsk against the trial of one of their members – a 16-year-old boy. Twelve of the arrested youth activists were to be released, but for three of them, no release date has been announced, Radio Free Europe reports. Altogether, eight Youth Front campaigners have been found guilty of ties to an unregistered organization or “malicious hooliganism”.
Meanwhile, Belarus offered more economic cooperation with the EU, notably in the energy field, at a conference on the European neighbourhood policy in Brussels on Monday (3 September). “We are equally important for each other”, Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Voronetski said, adding that Brussels and Minsk needed to move to more advanced forms of economic cooperation. The EU rejected the offer, however, saying that closer ties with the 27-member bloc required respect of democratic norms and values. “A rapprochement with the EU requires that Belarus takes convincing steps towards democratization and respect for human rights, including the right of people to express their opinion, and the right of NGOs to exist”, the EU spokesperson said.
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