COPENHAGEN, 7 February 2021 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Eastern Europe, Daniela De Ridder (Germany), has met with former Belarusian presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for discussions on how the international community can best support democratic processes in the country. Noting that Belarus is at top of her agenda, Special Representative De Ridder outlined her mandate and indicated that she is planning to have a series of meetings with various stakeholders including authorities and Head of the Belarusian OSCE PA Delegation Andrei Savinykh, as part of an overall effort to promote dialogue with all stakeholders in the country.

OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella also participated in the online meeting and highlighted the ongoing efforts of the OSCE PA to build bridges and create conditions for dialogue. He pointed out that the PA intends to have a series of meetings with various stakeholders and interlocutors in Belarus, including the OSCE PA Belarus Delegation, authorities and civil society.

The conversation with Tsikhanouskaya on Friday touched on the situation of human rights and freedoms in Belarus as well as the issue of political prisoners. De Ridder noted that her mandate includes engaging with all segments of society through inter-parliamentary diplomacy. She also stressed the OSCE PA’s commitment to contributing to confidence-building, reconciliation and dialogue facilitation with all relevant domestic and international actors.

Tsikhanouskaya welcomed the appointment of Special Representative and expressed readiness to engage in fruitful co-operation with her. She informed De Ridder about the current situation with protests in Belarus noting that people are still working and campaigning for greater rights and freedoms. She also pointed out that the number of political prisoners is increasing every day and recently a series of court hearings started handing down several-year prison sentences to peaceful demonstrators under criminal charges.

The role of women and the situation for arrested female protestors, activists and journalists was also discussed. The sides also highlighted the role of the OSCE and its Parliamentary Assembly in particular in maintaining international focus on Belarus.