Andrea Rigoni, a special rapporteur on Belarus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, is on an official visit to Minsk to discuss the perspective regarding abolition of the death penalty. Negotiations with the Belarusian MPs are taking place against the backdrop of the Eastern Partnership Summit, which kicked off today in Brussels, and where Belarus is represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei.
Rigoni, who was invited to the capital of Belarus by the government, is expected to participate in parliamentary discussions on the problems of applying capital punishment in the national legislation. Yesterday, after the meeting with the Vice-President of the Belarusian National Council (Parliament), the rapporteur said that the PACE “wants not only a closer approach from Belarus towards the values of the Council of Europe but also wants the republic to join the organisation”.
“Currently relations between Belarus and the Council of Europe are very positive. This is also confirmed by the fact that we are presently organising joint events. Belarus is present in the Council of Europe and our representatives come to your country, too,” Rigoni said. He also stressed that the Council of Europe is not concerned with the economic issues, but is interested in promotion of democracy and human rights.
In 1993, Belarus was given special guest status and applied for membership of the Council of Europe. Though, after the referendum in 1997, which lifted the moratorium on the death penalty, that status was revoked. At present, Belarus remains the only country in greater Europe that is not a member of the organisation.