The release of former presidential candidate in the 2010 election Andrei Sannikov and his colleague Dmitri Bondarenko demonstrates the power of the European Union. This was by EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, in Luxembourg on April 17. According to her, this release shows how important it is for the EU to keep the unity.
Catherine Ashton says she is satisfied that Andrei Sannikov and Dmitri Bondarenko have been released from prison. "I really hope that we may have a chance in Belarus," said Ashton, BelaPAN.
Austrian Foreign Ministry: Lukashenko is responsible for getting Belarus out of the international offside
Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria Michael Spindelegger called the release of Andrei Sannikov and Dmitri Bondarenko a step in the right direction. According to him, one may welcome this step, but it is still not enough for the improvement of relations with the European Union.
"We want to see solid improvement in the overall human rights situation in Belarus. Minsk regime is still very far from this," said Michael Spindelegger.
Austrian Foreign Minister urged the Belarusian authorities to release other imprisoned opposition members and no longer restrict their civil and political rights.
It depends on President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko whether Belarus will come from international offside or not, says Michael Spindelegger.
Kochiyanchich: EU Council may consider the Belarusian issue on April 23
The Belarusian issue is likely to be discussed at a meeting of the EU Council in Luxembourg on April 23, said Maya Kochiyanchich, spokesman for the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.
Former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, condemned in the "case of December 19," was released on April 14 after a pardon by President of Belarus. His associate, coordinator of the movement "European Belarus," Dmitri Bondarenko, was also released the next day.
Having freed Andrei Sannikov, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko took a step toward reconciliation with the EU. This opinion was voiced by Belarusian political analyst Valeri Karbalevich and several other politicians and public figures in Belarus and abroad.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said that the release of Andrei Sannikov and Dmitri Bondarenko should have taken place 16 months before. According to the European Parliament, he called to release the remaining opponents, including former presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich and head of the human rights center "Viasna" Ales Beliatski.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland also calls for the "immediate release of all remaining political prisoners."