MEPs argue whether to leave Belarus without Ice Hockey World Cup-2014

The day before adoption of the resolution on Belarus, MEPs had half-an-hour debates. According to Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Belarus Jacek Protasiewicz, the resolution is "a response to the war waged by the Belarusian authorities against Europe." This refers to the diplomatic conflict associated with the request of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Polish ambassador and the Chairperson of the EU diplomatic mission to temporarily leave Belarus.

All MEPs express solidarity with the fact that the Belarusian authorities have deliberately isolated the country from the European countries, that they must release the citizens, imprisoned for political reasons, and implement democratic reforms.

However, there were disagreements with regard to the scale of the sanctions and the Ice Hockey World Cup-2014. Some MEPs stand for stricter measures and urge the International Ice Hockey Federation to transfer the World Cup to another country.

Former Estonian Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland: "The dictator does not understand the principles of democracy, and therefore the principles of sport, the essence of which - in a free competition."

Polish MEP Marek Migalski has the same opinion: "The World Cup should be moved to another country as such a happy event must not be held in a country where there are not many reasons to be happy, where political opponents get imprisoned and the opposition activists are tortured". Former hockey player Peter Šťastný also said that the Sports Federation should transfer the event to another country until there are changes in Belarus for the sake of the sports reputation.

Former Prime Minister of Latvia Ivars Godmanis disagrees with that. He believes that the World Cup should not be a problem, but a part of the solution.

Ivars Godmanis"This is a rare opportunity for different people to get together. It is important to understand that many people will arrive to Belarus, they will be able to talk to Belarusians and to exchange their views freely. This will help to convey information about the real situation". 

Other Latvian MEPs (Krišjānis Kariņš and Inese Vaidere) called on to be very careful with large-scale economic sanctions, which can damage ordinary Belarusians and economic relations between Belarus and European countries. At the same time, they support the idea of visa ban list and targeted sanctions against the Belarusian authorities.

EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs took part in the debates. He stated that the executive bodies of the EU would take into account the resolution of the European Parliament, and confirmed that, unless political prisoners were released, the Council of the EU would add other businessmen to the "black list" at the session on March 23.

Voting on the agreed text of the resolution on Belarus will take place in the afternoon on March 15.