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Freedom House and Center for European Policy Analysis release working group report on democratic transition

(Freedom House/IFEX) - September 23, 2011 - The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Freedom House today announced the publication of a groundbreaking report, "Democratic Change in Belarus: A Framework for Action." This document is based on the findings of the Belarus Working Group, a bipartisan and transatlantic gathering of leading scholars, analysts, practitioners, and issue experts tasked with identifying sustainable and impactful Western strategies for supporting Belarusian civil society and dealing with "Europe's last dictatorship." Co-chaired by CEPA President A. Wess Mitchell and Freedom House President David J. Kramer, the Belarus Working Group's recommendations provide an actionable policy roadmap for catalyzing democratic change in the country.

The ongoing political crackdown against Belarusian opposition groups, civil society organizations and independent media has coincided with the country's worst economic crisis in over two decades. Store shelves have gone empty, basic food staples are in short supply and real wages have plummeted on account of economic mismanagement and long-neglected reforms by Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka. In response to rising signs of public discontent, the Belarusian regime has maintained - and at times intensified - its harsh suppression of the opposition and moved to outlaw nearly all forms of public speech and peaceful assembly."These developments call for robust transatlantic policies that could help bring about real democratic change in Belarus," said CEPA President A. Wess Mitchell.

Included in the report's recommendations is a two-pronged strategy for catalyzing near-term democratic change and laying the groundwork for the transition to a post-Lukashenka Belarus.

"A brutal dictatorship on the doorstep of the EU is unacceptable and contrary to the decades-long vision of a Europe 'whole, free, and at peace.' Those around Lukashenka need to know that a brighter future lies ahead after he is gone," said David J. Kramer, President of Freedom House. "Unconditional release of all political prisoners, elimination of repressive security measures, support for independent media and civil society, respect for rule of law, and free and competitive elections are essential for Belarus to take its rightful position as a European nation-state."

Click on the following link to read the report:
Democratic_Change_In_Belarus.pdf (1309 KB)

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