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MEPs protest against Lukashenko being invited to EaP summit

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Brusel, Nov 23 (CTK) – Czech MEPs Jaromir Stetina and Jiri Pospisil (both TOP 09) protest against the invitation of Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko to the 5th Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit on Friday, they said in a statement released on Thursday.

The EaP summits are a platform for EU members’ heads of state or cabinets to cooperate with top officials of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Lukashenko was invited to the EaP summit for the first time, but eventually Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei is to arrive.

As Stetina said in the declaration, the EaP project originated during the Czech EU presidency in 2009 with the aim of spreading the ideas of democracy and the rule of law and to assist with their anchoring in countries in the east of Europe.

“Nevertheless, the current invitation of Lukashenko goes right against this spirit,” Stetina said.

This means letting Belarusian democrats down on behalf of the EU, he said.

According to a diplomatic source from the EU, the invitations were addressed to all heads of states and cabinets of the six EaP members, hence including Belarus.

Lukashenko was invited for the first time due to the EU relaxing its sanctions against Belarus, which were introduced in 2004 and banned Lukashenko and another 170 representatives of the country from entering the EU territory.

Several protesters were demonstrating on Thursday on account of the situation in Belarus in front of the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, where the summit will take place.

According to one of the protesters, Dzyanis Kazakevich, inviting Lukashenko was a big mistake. “European politicians unfortunately forgot about the elementary values and principles of the EU. When you betray your own values, you will eventually bear the consequences of your bad decisions. I am glad that Lukashenko will not eventually arrive, but the invitation itself undermines the elementary EU values,” he told CTK.

According to Pospisil, the EU must pay equal attention to human rights as it does to other issues.

“The EU is an island of democracy to the Belarusian opposition – they look up to us and expect us to support them in their effort to establish democratic order in their country,” he said.

Both MEPs are members of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the EP.

The EPP meets this evening prior to the summit. EPP members, including European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will attend the meeting along with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and several representatives of the Belorussian opposition such as Anatol Liabedzka and Vital Rymashevski.

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