Opening remarks by President Sassoli ahead of the speech of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the European Parliament
“I am honoured to have with us today Ms Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus who, as you will recall, together with other leaders of the democratic opposition, was awarded the 2020 Sakharov Prize and who has accepted my invitation to speak at the European Parliament.
“Sviatlana is a symbol of the struggle for democracy and freedom and a voice for many political prisoners currently incarcerated in Belarus. More than a year after the elections, the results of which the European Union does not recognise, Belarus continues to violate the rights of its citizens, silences civil society, and uses repression as a weapon every day. The regime did not hesitate to use men, women, and children who were in need of protection. It put their lives in danger, without any respect for fundamental human rights, for the sole purpose of destabilising the European Union.
“We reiterate today that the values of the Union are not for sale. This Parliament calls on the other institutions to stand up for the defence of fundamental rights.
“There are currently 900 political prisoners in Belarus, including 2020 Sakharov Prize winners Maryia Kaslesnikava, Mikalai Statkevich, Siarhei Tsikhanousky e Alies Bialiatski. We stand with them and we will continue to call for their freedom.”