Members of the CoR commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs – CIVEX – held a debate on 22 September about the political situation in Belarus with the participation of Petras Auštrevičius (LT/Renew Europe), rapporteur on relations with Belarus at the European Parliament.
On 17 September members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the official results of the “so-called presidential elections" on 9 August. Mr Auštrevičius said that “we need solidarity, we need support, and we need sanctions" in the EU's policy towards Belarus. He highlighted the “brutal" response ordered by Aleksandr Lukashenko, who become president of Belarus in 1994, to protests against what the European Parliament described as “fraudulent elections". He also provided an account of the European Parliament's meeting on 21 September with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the opposition's candidate in the elections.
The bureau of the CoR on 11 September issued a statement strongly condemning "all violence, repression and arrests of peaceful protesters", calling on "local authorities in Belarus … to help find a political solution to the crisis", and encouraging "cities and regions in the EU to develop cooperation and partnerships with the cities and regions of Belarus". This could be fostered within the framework of the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), which provides an institutional communication channel with elected representatives at local and regional level, including from Belarus, and a platform for local and regional initiatives promoting sustainable territorial development and decentralisation reforms.
In their exchange with MEP Auštrevičius at the CIVEX meeting, members of all the political groups in the CoR emphasised the broad alignment of their political groups with the EU's response to the elections. Aleksandra Dulkiewicz (PL/EPP), mayor of Gdansk, said that it was “extremely important to make [Belarusians arriving in the EU] feel secure in our local communities, but even more important to support young people who have had to leave their country, to continue their education". Per Bødker Andersen (DK/PES) of Kolding municipality said that Europe's socialists strongly endorse the European Parliament's decision to stand with the people of Belarus and their struggle for democracy, highlighting their online 'We Hear You, Belarus' campaign and its nomination of the Belarus opposition for the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Matteo Bianchi (IT/ECR) of Morazzone municipal council said that the European Conservatives and Reformists group was “very much in favour of increasing support that gives to Belarus, but in a way that Aleksandr Lukashenko does not take advantage of this funding".