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The Nordic Council held its annual meeting on Belarus on Wednesday 2 September. Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja, Alexander Dabravolski of the Co-ordinating Council of the Belarusian opposition and Vytis Jurkonis, director of Freedom House in Vilnius, took part in the online meeting. The meeting was chaired by Erkki Tuomioja (Social Democratic Parliamentary Group), who is the rapporteur for Belarus to the Presidium of the Nordic Council and the chair of the Finnish delegation to the Nordic Council. President of the Nordic Council Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, Vice-President of the Nordic Council Oddný G. Harðardóttir and the chairpersons of national delegations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden also took part in the meeting.
According to Tuomioja, the Nordic Council finds the situation in Belarus deeply concerning as democracy, human rights and the freedom of assembly are under threat. In the meeting, Tuomioja reminded that respect for democracy is one the most important priorities in the International Strategy of the Nordic Council. “The Nordic Council wants to support democratisation in Belarus and promote equality and freedom of speech”, Tuomioja stated.
The aim of the Nordic Council’s meetings with Belarus has been to enable political dialogue between Belarusian opposition, NGOs, and representatives of the regime. These meetings have been organised together with the Baltic Assembly in Vilnius since 2007. Last year, the meeting took place in Stockholm and it took place online for the first time this year.
The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary co-operation. Formed in 1952, it has 87 members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. In the Nordic Council meetings, Nordic politicians make decisions on issues that they call on the Nordic governments to implement. Finland joined the organisation in 1955. 18 Finnish MPs are members of the Nordic Council which has also two representatives from Åland. The members of the Finnish delegation to the Nordic Council participate in the work of the Nordic Council’s Committees and Presidium throughout the year.
Further information on the Nordic Council