Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for November 17th, 2009

‘Pragmatic’ EU Keeps Belarus Sanctions In Suspension

Posted by Info on 17/11/2009

EU foreign ministers have decided that the bloc will extend for another year its dual approach in dealing with Belarus, applying sanctions on the one hand but simultaneously suspending them on the other.

A draft EU declaration said the bloc would maintain the sanctions — mainly travel bans leveled against top Belarusian officials, which were first imposed in the wake of the country’s flawed March 2006 presidential elections, and then suspended in large part in October 2008.

The EU welcomed the release of political prisoners and Minsk’s agreement to participate in various kinds of dialogue with Brussels, including talks on the human rights situation in the country.
EU officials have also welcomed steps by Minsk to introduce a degree of media freedom and the willingness of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime to take international advice on electoral reform. The new EU statement says there needs to be more progress in bringing Belarus’s electoral laws in line with international standards. Freedom of expression, assembly, and political association must also be strengthened.

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Democracy Still Under Threat 20 Years After Velvet Revolution

Posted by Info on 17/11/2009

-In 1989, British writer and Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash reported on the wave of democratic revolutions that swept Europe, and witnessed some of its key events.

Garton Ash:I do think a big problem is that the memory of 1989 is divided, ambivalent, and weak. It’s divided between East and West. It’s ambivalent even in Central and Eastern European countries, you see that here. And it’s quite weak among the young generation. And if you don’t know where you’re coming from and what it was like before, you’ve got a problem.

RFE/RL: You’ve written about the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia as a model of peaceful democratic change… But what about the lack of political actors? Where are the Vaclav Havels of Georgia and Ukraine today?

Garton Ash: You know the famous exchange in Bertolt Brecht’s “Galileo,” when Galileo’s disappointed disciple says “Unhappy the land that has no heroes,” and Galileo replies, “Unhappy the land that has need of heroes.”

A normal country doesn’t need heroes every day. But there is clearly a big problem with the political class in the Czech Republic and in many other places in postcommunist Europe. There’s a problem of corruption, there’s a problem of pettiness, and there’s a sense among the population that these guys are only in it for themselves. That I think is becoming a real cancer in postcommunist democracies.

RFE/RL: People have disagreed about various matters in recent debates about the significance of 1989. But one opinion most share is that Russia today represents one of the greatest threats to freedom in Europe.

Garton Ash: I don’t believe Russia is the largest threat to freedom in Europe today. .. But Russia is a huge challenge because it clearly has a system which, while it pretends to be democratic, is in fact a version of authoritarian capitalism. And because it controls the oil and gas supplies for many European countries. So that’s a challenge for us...

RFE/RL: Vaclav Havel and other Eastern and Central European politicians have criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for declining to meet the Dalai Lama recently… Is the criticism of the Obama administration wrong? If so, do you see a strategy in Washington?

Garton Ash: The Obama administration, to the disappointment of many, is turning out to be rather realist. Its priorities are security first, development second, and democracy and human rights a rather poor third…..My own view is that all democratic governments across the world should simply agree that we receive the Dalai Lama.  It’s not support for the independence of Tibet, it’s support for basic human rights. more here

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17.11. – Czechs, Slovaks Mark 20 Years Since Velvet Revolution – Vaclav Havel From Jail to President’s Castle Hradcany

Posted by Info on 17/11/2009

Czechs and Slovaks are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the student protest that ignited the Velvet Revolution — the nonviolent revolt that toppled the Czechoslovak communist regime during the wave of revolutions that swept through Eastern and Central Europe at the end of 1989.

On November 17, 1989, police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague — triggering a series of mass demonstrations that eventually brought down the regime and ended 40 years of communist rule in Czechoslovakia before the end of the year.

Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright who became the country’s first democratic president, political leaders, and hundreds of people lay flowers and lit candles at a memorial at the site of the police crackdown.

Several thousand people participated in a march in downtown Prague to reenact the peaceful student protest in 1989 that police brutally dispersed.  The resulting outrage fed weeks of demonstrations and strikes that crippled the communist government and forced Czechoslovakia’s Soviet-backed leaders to abandon the one-party system.

Who is Vaclav Havel?  READ HERE

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