Visiting Belarus visa-free

Statement by MFA Press-Service on the Decision by the Radio and Television Commission of the Republic of Lithuania to Ban the Re-broadcasting of the Belarusian State Television Programs on the Lithuanian Territory

The Republic of Belarus has reiterated several times that the states persistently trying to “teach democracy” to Belarus in reality benefit from at least two concepts of “democracy” and “democratic standards”. One of them they use for themselves, another one they try to impose on others.

Quite notable is the haste which the above mentioned decision was taken with notwithstanding the negative position of the foreign affairs committee of the Lithuanian Seym on this issue and without conducting preliminary consultations with the Lithuanian public.

We consider as groundless and artificial the reference by Lithuania to its own national legislation for justification of such a step.

The decision by the Lithuanian authorities directly violates the bilateral agreements between Belarus and Lithuania – the Declaration on the Principles of Good Neighborliness and Cooperation and the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Lithuania, which entitled Lithuanians in Belarus and Belarusians in Lithuania the rights and freedoms equal to those enjoyed by both countries’ citizens. The ban on the re-broadcasting of the Belarusian TV seriously constraints the right of the Belarusian national minority in Lithuania to have access to information in their mother language, deprives them of the possibility to openly develop their culture, preserve national and ethnic identity, maintain contacts with their motherland.

Moreover, there is a clear contradiction with the OSCE Helsinki Documents.

The efforts of the European Union to promote some sort of “alternative TV- and radio-broadcasting” on Belarus look especially ridiculous against the background of the above decision by the Lithuanian authorities.

We hope that the EU political leadership will give a proper assessment to the actions by one of its full-fledged Member States from the point of view of Lithuania’s adherence to the declared “high standards” of the European Union in the sphere of human rights encouragement and protection.

We also urge the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities to influence Lithuania’s position so that the Lithuanian side respects its commitments within the OSCE framework.