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Monday, June 13, 2005


Regulations hinder EU from helping Belarus opposition

From EU Observer:

The European Commission's own rules of procedure are the main obstacle in stepping up aid to the democratic opposition in Belarus, as the country heads for a potentially explosive confrontation with Alexander Lukashenko's government ahead of the 2006 elections.

"The problem is not the Belarusian regime, but our financial regulations and the open and transparent way in which we have to operate our projects", Raul de Lutzenberger, the former head of the commission's Minsk desk told MEPs in Strasbourg on Thursday (9 June), adding "It's not Belarus that will accuse us of using the money badly, but our own controllers".

Mr de Lutzenberger, who lived in Minsk for four years before moving to lead Brussels' delegation to Moldova, said that any proposals - such as a call by Polish and Lithuanian MEPs to set up independent radio stations on the EU-Belarusian border - must meet strict transparency, auditing, relevance and efficiency criteria before they get the green light.

MEPs on the European Parliament's eastern European-dominated Belarus delegation also complained about the assymetrical nature of Brussels' approach to the Belarusian challenge.

"Don't try to use normal ways with an abnormal dictatorship", Lithuanian centre-right member Aldis Kusis told Mr de Lutzenberger at the Strasbourg meeting.

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