Please find below text of a question for written answer on Restrictions on media freedom in Belarus tabled today by Anna Fotyga and Kosma Zlotowski to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Belarus has recently introduced a new draft bill ‘On Mass Media’, which would provide a legal basis for unprecedented restrictions in freedom of expression and press freedom. On this path, President Lukashenko´s government has already blocked Charter 97 website.
Notably, since announcements of the new restrictions on media and internet freedoms, officials of the European Commission, including HR/VP and Commissioner Hahn have not issued either a public statement, or a policy concerning these grave facts. Furthermore, they continue regular meetings with Belarusian authorities. Most recently, on June 1, Commissioner Hahn met with Foreign Minister, V.Makei. Additionally, we have recently learned that he, together with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, will visit Belarus on June 21.
This lack of reaction from the EC and the EEAS, towards the Belarusian government can be construed as an encouragement to increase scope and scale of its attacks on free media and Internet freedom in the country. Moreover, the Lukashenko regime propaganda will likely use this situation as a quiet consent of the West to such harmful restrictions.
1. Why is the Commission opting for a middle path while dealing with critically important issues of democracy in Belarus?
2. How is the Commission going to reconcile cooperation with Belarus on issues such as digital market, while the country is distancing itself from fundamental principles of democracy?