Crucial elections in Belarus and Ukraine Date: Thursday 30 March 2006 from 19.00 - 21.30 hrs. Location Felix Meritis, Keizersgracht 324, Amsterdam Entrance: Free This debate is organised by the Alfred Mozer Stichting (AMS), the international foundation for social democracy linked to the Dutch Labour Party, PvdA. The main goal of the debate is to discuss the consequences of the outcomes of the presidential elections in Belarus (19 March) and the parliamentary elections in Ukraine (26 March). Attention will be paid to questions such as: how can the outcomes of the elections be explained? What are the consequences of the outcomes for the internal political situation in both countries? What are the consequences of the outcomes for the relationship of both countries with the European Union (EU)? The Belarus panel: Nina Milinkevich (NGO activist from Belarus and wife of united opposition presidential candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich) Bert Koenders (Member of Parliament for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) and spokesperson for foreign affairs, ambassador of the AMS Belarus Solidarity Fund) Christophe Kamp (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, section Southeast and Eastern-Europe, observer of the elections in Ukraine) Kirsten Meijer (Project Manager Alfred Mozer Stichting, Belarus specialist) The Ukraine panel: Yurji Lutsenko (Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine) Thijs Berman (Member of the social-democratic fraction of the European Parliament, observer of the elections in Ukraine) Christophe Kamp (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, section Southeast and Eastern-Europe, observer of the elections in Ukraine) Victoria Koblenko (Actor and observer of the elections in Ukraine) Belarus is often called “The last European dictatorship”. For this reason, it’s hardly surprising that the presidential elections are likely to be won by ruling president Lukashenka. The opposition forces are structurally suppressed and human rights are violated on a large scale. However, the united opposition could be a first signal of a broad revolutionary force and the beginning of a transition. And isn’t it time for more political pressure form Brussels? In 2004, the so-called “Orange Revolution” changed many things in Ukraine. The revolution gave democracy in the Ukraine a change to develop. Now in 2006, the first post-revolution parliamentary elections will be held. The coalition of revolutionary opposition forces has fallen apart and former president-candidate Yanukovich has taken the lead in the opinion polls. Will democracy in Ukraine develop further or will it have to make a step back in time?