EU and ‘Visegrad Four’ Slam Belarus and Ukraine
On 5 March in Prague, foreign ministers from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic approved a strategy for the new ‘Visegrad Four Eastern Partnership’ initiative, which was initiated last June to support political and economic reforms in six former Soviet Union republics - Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Belarus.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and the Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle also attended the meeting, which was boycotted by Belarusian officials amid growing tensions between Brussels and Belarus.
The foreign ministers called for a substantial change in Belarusian policies that would facilitate political dialogue with the authorities in Minsk, stressing that the regime should release and rehabilitate all political prisoners.
Further concerns were raised about the political situation in Ukraine, where the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year jail sentence that is widely regarded as politically motivated.