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Brussels, 18 July 2012
Belarus: With independent journalists about European future
Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with journalists from Belarusian independent media in Brussels today to discuss the situation in Belarus, the EU’s policy towards the country and the European Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarusian society.
"The Belarusian independent media fulfil a crucial role in the state dominated media landscape in Belarus and have been one of the main victims of the authorities’ crackdown on independent opinions after the 2010 Presidential elections. The independent media deserve all of our support in these difficult times," Commissioner Füle said. "I welcome that the independent media follow closely developments in EU-Belarus relations, including with regards to the European Dialogue on Modernisation," he added. The Dialogue aims to discuss the vision of a modern Belarus with the civil society and democratic opposition as well as the necessary reforms in the country and possible EU support in this regard.
In the meeting with Belarusian journalists Commissioner Füle stressed that the EU was very much interested in what is going on in Belarus and was not getting tired of paying a close attention to the developments there: "The only thing which is tiring is that we do not see any improvements in democratic standards and respect for human rights," he noted and explained the three pillars of the EU approach to Belarus: targeted sanctions, support to the civil society and European Dialogue on Modernisation. He made clear that it was wrong to interpret the future of Belarus as the choice between Moscow and Brussels: "In reality, the choice is between democracy with accountability on one side and autocracy on the other," Commissioner Füle said. He also explained the European efforts to make it easier for the Belarusian citizens to get visas to travel to the EU.