Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto will visit Minsk in Belarus on 25 November together with Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde.
The Ministers will meet President Alexander Lukashenko and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei, as well as opposition and civil society representatives.
Together, they will discuss the cooperation with Belarus, the internal situation in the country and its EU relations as well as topical international matters, informed the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
According to OSCE election observers, the parliamentary elections held in Belarus on Sunday 17 November were not administered in line with international standards.
“We want to promote the reforms in Belarus and the country’s EU integration. This is also what we are doing while holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU. I hope that Belarus will take the OSCE election observers’ criticism seriously and listen to the Venice Commission's recommendations for the forthcoming elections," says Pekka Haavisto.
Human rights and civil society
The Finnish minister explained that in EU affairs, Finland wants to promote the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities and the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements, which are currently being negotiated. "We will also have an open debate on the rule of law, human rights and civil society,” says Haavisto.
Belarus is one of the six partner countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP). In recent years, the relations between the EU and Belarus have converged on a number of practical issues, but the rule of law development in Belarus is a cause for concern.
"The EU hopes that Belarus will abolish the death penalty and increase Belarusian civil society organizations working opportunities", says the Finnish Goverment.