Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-03-23-Speech-4-025"

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"Madam President, I am really very much obliged to the House for its unanimous, strong and impressive support for our endeavours and those of the Commission. We are all thinking along the same lines, and we must now find efficient ways of both holding the regime responsible for the situation, for the conduct of the elections, and supporting those who want to bring about change. We all agree on this. Naturally, we intend to follow many of the recommendations made here. Since I cannot go into detail on all the points raised, I should like to discuss those that I find particularly interesting in this context. Mr Klich reminded the House that Alexander Milinkevich visited Parliament; I should like to point out that Mr Milinkevich has also visited the Council – at all events, 14 Foreign Ministers were present for that discussion, which was held within the framework of a Council meeting, and there, too, we made very clear the depth of our admiration for the courage of the opposition and the strength of our support. Several speakers here have mentioned restrictive measures, or sanctions. That is exactly what we need now. Visa restrictions are already in place, and these restrictive measures must now be extended. Mrs Schroedter said that a visa ban should be imposed on everyone responsible, and that is exactly what we need. That is also the reason why – even though, naturally, scenarios have already been considered in the past – we are only now able to take specific measures: because we now know exactly who is responsible for the situation in Belarus and which names should appear on the list of visa restrictions – although a detailed analysis is still required. As many speakers have said, at the same time, we must find ways of offering assistance to people who wish to travel abroad, to visit our countries, to broaden their minds, to see how democracy works. I am also much obliged to Commissioner Kovács for taking a specific stance on the measures planned by the Commission, as it will also be important that the Commission, with our full support, develop credible, coherent programmes. Smart sanctions have been mentioned. Indeed, that is exactly what we need, although, to be quite honest, I must say that it is often easier said than done to find exactly the kind of measures that do not hit the wrong people. Attention has also been drawn to the EU observers who were denied access. That is a most regrettable state of affairs. I should like to point out that the Presidency declaration on the situation in Belarus that was issued yesterday expressly deplored the non-admittance of EU observers, including Members of the European Parliament. That only goes to prove the depth of the fear of allowing free parliamentarians into the county. It is indeed our duty to support the young people, civil society, those people who are still holding out despite sub-zero temperatures, and we shall join with the Commission in seeking ways of doing so. Mr Kamiński mentioned the free media, which play a most important role. That is indeed important. We all know from past experience – and, as an Austrian, I am in a particularly good position to judge – the importance of the role played by independent radio and television in our neighbours Hungary and Czechoslovakia at one time. In the present day, too, we must ensure that those interested in doing so have the opportunity to receive news free from censorship and control. We shall endeavour to do that."@en1

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