European Forum launches weblog

Mon 20 Mar 2006

From today on the European Forum launched a weblog. The purpose is to share first hand personal experiences, if possible from eyewitnesses of important or interesting events in our working field or from the European Forum staff. The first weeks we will focus on the elections in Belarus and Ukraine. The first weblog contains impressions from Minsk – one day after the falsified presidential elections:

Novruz for Belarus!
Yesterday evening I was having a huge Italian/ Azeri dinner in the house of my friends from Azerbaijan, living in Amsterdam. While we were enjoying the delicious specialties and small glasses of Ukrainian vodka the television was running loud in the background. Few months before we were watching together the frauded election reports coming from their home country Azerbaijan. Now elections in Belarus are on the agenda. Our hostess is concerned and turns red in the face while discussing politics in these countries.

While biking home my Dutch friend and me complain about the cold, which is indeed strange for this time of year. Once at home I turn on BBC to see the latest news on Belarus. All day long it has been on my mind. Now I see the people gathering in the streets of Minsk to protest against the violations before and during the elections. It seems as if there is a snowstorm going on, which make me feel ashamed about our earlier complaints.

Today back in the office people who are normally not so much into international politics come to me and ask me about Belarus. People are shocked about the cruelty of the regime – not so far away. Talking on the phone with our friend Olga who joined the demonstrations in Minsk yesterday it becomes even clearer how fraudulent the elections are. “To whoever you talk, in the taxi, in the bar or on the street – everybody voted for Milinkevich. Nobody doubts that these elections are falsified. In my own polling station the election committee did not want to mess up the results. The chairman said that Milinkevich had 54 percent of the votes.”

Opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich called upon the people to gather tonight 18:30 again on the October Square. Olga doubts whether there will be so many people again tonight. “Though the atmosphere yesterday was positive and hopeful, there is a climate of fear. The KGB said that everybody who is protesting is regarded to be a terrorist, who risks 25 years of prison or even death penalty. Yesterday the international observers were there. Most of them will leave today. We expect things to get violent.” In the middle of our conversation the line is cut off.

In Azerbaijan Novruz (New Day) is celebrated today. I did not want to withhold this description of the holiday I found on a website: “Novruz is the point when the oppressive presence of the cold Winter finally begins to retrieve with the commencement of the lively and hopeful Spring”. Let’s hope it is a real Novruz in Belarus today.

Posted by Kirsten Meijer, Project Manager European Forum on 20-03-2006 - 15:57:48

The weblogs will be published at the European Forum website. It is also possible to place reactions.