Ukraine fails to support Visegrad Group Statement on human rights abuse in Belarus

Ukraine did not endorse a statement issued by the countries of the Visegrad Group (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), Germany and Austria on Tuesday. The statement concerned human rights abuse in Belarus.

Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, quoting from a declaration signed at the summit, said “We extend our resolute call on the authorities in Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners and to rehabilitate them.» He added that it was unacceptable for Belarus to disregard the rights of its citizens.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated that the Visegrad Group supports “those who believe in Europe and are now in prison”. He promised that the statement adopted would not be merely declarative, but would be backed up by specific actions. For example, he said, funding would be provided to support democracy and provide social assistance for Belarusian nationals.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov who was present at the summit in Bratislava did not sign the statement. He said that this was because Ukraine had not been informed of the details of the statement beforehand and that the delegation had not had time to read it in detail. He added that he was in favour of dialogue with the Belarusian leadership on the given issues and said that he believed through dialogue more could be achieved than by signing documents they had not had the opportunity to study.

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