Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
Riga, Latvia
June 6, 2006
On 6 June 2006, the Latvian and German Ambassadors to Belarus, and a European Commission representative met with the Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Mikhnevich to express their concerns about the latest developments in connection with a non-governmental organisation The Belarus Helsinki Committee (BHC).

The EU representatives noted that the continuation of the operation of the BHC in the territory of Belarus is particularly significant for Belarus and the European Union. The BHC has proved to be a loyal partner for the EU non-governmental human rights organisations, therefore the problems the Belarus Helsinki Committee currently encounters has received an enormous response among the EU member states and partners. The Latvian and German Ambassadors as well as the EC representative expressed their discontent with the claim the Belarusian Ministry of Justice had lodged with the Supreme Court on 24 May to suspend the operation of the BHC.

It was emphasised that the European Union disagrees with the accusations made against the BHC of past due taxes under the TACIS Programme. The EU considers that the technical assistance to Belarus is funded by the EU taxpayers, and it would be unusual to impose taxes on this kind of assistance. The technical assistance funding is also attested by the documents signed on 10 May 1994 between the European Community and the government of Belarus.

The EU representatives urged their host to make every effort to ensure the operation of the BHC in the area of human rights in the territory of Belarus, and expressed hope that the Belarusian Ministry of Justice would withdraw its claim.

The Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister noted that Belarusian institutions have been briefed on the EU position regarding the question of the Baltic Helsinki Committee, and also stressed that to date no negative decisions have yet been adopted with regard to this organisation.

The Belarus Helsinki Committee is one of the leading non-governmental human rights organisations in Belarus. On 25 May, the Belarusian Ministry of Justice lodged a claim with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus, accusing the Baltic Helsinki Committee of recurrent violations of the national legislation.