Repression of Belarus opposition 'unacceptable': Merkel
The repression of the Belarus opposition under strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko is "unacceptable", German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday at an EU summit with ex-Soviet partner states.
"The behaviour of the regime toward the opposition is completely unacceptable. The opposition is suffering and we are reflecting on how we can support it," Merkel said in Warsaw after having met Thursday with representatives of the Belarus opposition.
"Unfortunately, we must say the development of the situation in Belarus is a step backwards," she said.
According to Merkel, economic cooperation with Belarus, or its absence, was a "double-edged sword."
"Economic cooperation is criticised by part of the Belarus opposition, but we must always take into account what it would mean to individuals if the situation would further deteriorate," she said.
"We see little progress on the path to democratisation. If there is any, then we will do our part to support Belarus, but from what I heard yesterday I must admit does not sound optimistic," Merkel added.
Current European Union president Poland on Thursday proposed a package of economic measures to help cash-strapped Belarus on condition it pledges to shore up democratic processes, especially free and fair elections.
Merkel said she would raise the controversial abuse of power trial of Ukraine's pro-democracy Orange Revolution icon and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko with her bitter political rival, Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych in talks later Friday.
© 2011 AFP