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Statement on the violence, repression and political arrests in Belarus  

By the bureau of the European Committee of the Regions

We, the members of the Bureau of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure the respect of fundamental values, human rights and freedoms, and we strongly condemn all violence, repression and arrests of peaceful protesters.

In line with the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 19 August 2020, we call on the Belarusian authorities to release as soon as possible all unlawfully detained protesters.

The people of Belarus are not isolated in Europe. Strong cultural and human ties bind us. We aspire together to peace and solidarity.

We support all efforts intended to benefit the democratic and civil rights of the people of Belarus, who have a right to live in a functioning democracy and be able to determine their own future.

We stand ready to develop cooperation and partnerships with the cities and regions of Belarus, to encourage peer-learning and reforms aimed at empowering local self-governance for the benefit of the citizens of Belarus, inspired by the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

We encourage a dialogue inclusive of all levels of governance, and call on the local authorities in Belarus to seize the opportunity to bridge the existing confidence gap between public institutions and citizens, and to help find a political solution to the crisis.

We encourage cities and regions in the EU to develop cooperation and partnerships with the cities and regions of Belarus. European cities and regions are committed to territorial cooperation, including cross-border cooperation, people-to-people contacts, training of local government staff and twinning, in support of local democracy and good governance. The Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) 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. Any further deterioration of the current situation would negatively impact our existing cooperation with the Belarusian authorities.

We call on the European Union and its Member States to offer appropriate financial assistance to strengthen civil society and the capacity of local authorities in Belarus to duly represent citizens and to foster the resilience of their communities, already strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NOTES

On 10 September, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wrote to the co-chairs of CORLEAP, stating that: "CORLEAP is and will remain a key stakeholder in the Eastern Partnership, as the regional and local aspects of the policy will be crucial in the future, also in light of the renewed focus on youth, the environment, digitalisation and health."

The bureau of the European Committee of the Regions comprises:

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Governor of Central Macedonia;
Vasco Codeiro, First Vice-President of the CoR and Governor of the Azores;
Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the EPP group and President of West Pomerania in Poland;
Christophe Rouillon, President of the Party of European Socialists group and mayor of Coulaines in France;
François Decoster, President of Renew Europe and Mayor of Saint Omer in France;
Kieran McCarthy, President of the European Alliance and member of Cork County Council in Ireland;
Satu Haapanen of Oulu City Council and Bernd Voss of Schleswig-Holstein State Parliament, co-presidents of the Greens;

27 other Vice-Presidents (one for each Member State); and 26 other members.​

Contact:
Andrew Gardner
Tel. +32 473 983 981
andrew.gardner@cor.europa.eu