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March 10, 2011

During the plenary session in Strasbourg on 7-10 March, the MEPs discussed developments in Lybia, the situation of political prisoners in Belarus, assessed the progress of Turkey and Montenegro towards EU membership. The MEPs also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the International Women`s Day and discussed challenges that Roma are facing in the EU.

At the centre of the debate was the situation in Lybia and other Southern neighbours of the EU. On Thursday, the Parliament by majority adopted a resolution, initiated by the ALDE group, including Leonidas Donskis. The resolution also calls on the EU Member States to "stand ready" for UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya and to establish relations with the Interim Transitional National Council. The resolution also urges to isolate Gaddafi regime and to expand sanctions.

On Wednesday, the Parliament voted on the progress of Turkey and Montenegro in their EU membership negotiations. According to the ALDE group, Turkey provides inspiration to many in the Arab world as a secular democracy with a majority Muslim population. Nevertheless the Turkish accession process is facing multiple challenges, such as the issue of Cyprus, deterioration of press freedom, including self-censorship of national media and internet sites; the situation of women and rising rates of honour killings and forced marriages, and the lack of protection of religious minorities. Meanwhile, the Parliament welcomed the European Council’s decision to grant Montenegro EU candidate country status.

MEPs condemn the disrespect for the fundamental rights in Belarus

On Thursday the European Parliament adopted a resolution, initiated by Leonidas Donskis, on Belarus, highlighting the cases of Ales Mikhalevich and Natalia Radina. Ales Mikhalevich, a former presidential candidate, was imprisoned after post-election protests of 19 December 2010 and released only after signing a commitment to collaborate with the KGB. Natalia Radina, editor of an opposition website, was arrested for organising and participating in a mass protest following elections. She too was released but is not allowed to leave her home town until the investigation of her case is complete.

The resolution condemns the disrespect for the fundamental rights of freedom of assembly and of expression by Belarusian authorities and call for the unconditional and immediate release of political prisoners. They also strongly condemn the use of torture against political prisoners and describe this behaviour as inhuman treatment. The prisoners were also denied legal help thereby violating international human rights standards. Furthermore, MEPs call on the competent EU institutions and partner countries to consider the extension of restrictive measures to prosecutors, judges and KGB representatives associated with the abuse of human rights unless repression is brought to an end. MEPs also emphasise that ``without immediate steps towards democratisation and upholding human rights by the government of Belarus the process of engagement between the EU and Belarus will be put on hold" including Belarus` participation in the Eastern Partnership.

International Women`s Day:
the fight for gender equality continues

On Tuesday the Parliament marked the 100th anniversary of the International Women`s Day (Tuesday 8 March) with a vote on two resolutions on gender equality and the other on female poverty. According to President J. Buzek, now it is essential to protect women`s rights and to narrow the gender pay gap. The pay gap between men and women still averages 18% in the EU and in some Member States exceeds 30%, noted MEPs, urging the Member States to implement equal pay for equal work laws properly. Other issues were also highlighted, such as the need for social dialogue, active inclusion, reintegration of women into labour markets, the balance between family and professional life and life-long learning.

Resolution also urges to get more women in decision-making positions in EU, national, regional and local levels and increase women`s participation in political life. Currently, women represent 35 % of MEPs. The European Parliament also discussed the issue of violence against women and called for a EU directive on the prevention and fight against all forms (physical, sexual and psychological) violence. It was also proposed to designate a European Year of Combating Violence against Women.

EU standards for Roma integration and Hungarian media law

On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the improvement of the situation of Europe`s 10-12 million Roma. The resolution focuses on the protection of Roma`s fundamental rights and the improvement of their access to employment, education, housing and healthcare. Special attention is paid to the fight against Roma discrimination in all spheres of life. The resolution urges to fight against stereotypes, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and hate speech.

MEPs also call on Member States to ensure a tolerant environment in schools and fight against segregation by employing Roma teachers and to give a possibility for Roma children to study in their language. It was stressed that it is important to educate a new generation of leaders and to encourage Roma to participate actively in all spheres of public and political life.

On Thursday, MEPs adopted a resolution calling for further review of the Hungarian media laws - despite the changes voted by the Hungarian Parliament. The European Parliament also asked the Commission to propose a EU directive on media freedom, pluralism and independent governance before the end of this year.



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Which of the activities of L. Donskis at the European Parliament proved to be the most effective?
Activities in the field of human rights
Work with Eastern Partnership and post-Soviet countries
Support of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU
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