The European official also had a meeting with the Belarusian opposition in Minsk, where he was asked whether the Belarusian authorities have made any promises to change the situation (he had negotiations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Siarhiey Martynau and in the President’s Administration).
Wiegand said it is possible that some political prisoners would be released in the nearest future. One can predict that Zmitsier Bandarenka and Andrey Sannikau would be released, since they have filed petitions for pardon. Though, several persons convicted for the events of December 19, 2010 were pardoned even without such petitions.
During the meeting with the Belarusian opposition, Wiegand reported about the official Minsk’s interest to resume the dialogue with the West, notes the leader of the Movement For Freedom (MFF) Alaksandr Milinkevich.
It was the purpose of Wiegand’s visit to start preparing the dialogue that is meant to result in the economic, political, and social modernisation of Belarus.
It was noted that today the dialogue could be conducted informally in such areas as political reform, legal reform, and technical cooperation from environment protection to transportation to trade.
However, the European official stressed that the EU still considers the release of political prisoners to be an absolutely compulsory step to resume the dialogue.
“These are not strategic games but a pragmatic policy based on moral values, the policy of critical participation,” said the EEAS’s department head.
“Our policy is not tough – it’s a policy of principle,” he added.
According to him, the EU doesn’t use embargo, and isn’t even applying sectoral sanctions. They are exceptionally targeted and personal. Experience shows that it is not the extension of economic sanctions but the chance for dialogue and cooperation that reduces repressions and releases political prisoners, noted Gunnar Wiegand.
Thus, the EU doesn’t intend to apply a new approach, but is seeking new means of influence.
The guest from the European Union has also expressed his opinion concerning the relations between Belarus and Russia. According to him, “the EU isn’t against regional integration, but is against an oligarchic seizure of foreign economy.”