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21 April 2022, 13:30

Ministry: Belarus' calls to stop fence building in Belovezhskaya Pushcha fall on deaf ears

MINSK, 21 April (BelTA) - The Council of Europe ignores Belarus' appeals to stop building a fence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Larisa Lukina, deputy head of the main department of environmental policy, international cooperation and science - head of the international cooperation department of the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, said during a round table at BelTA's press center on 21 April.

According to the deputy head, in December 2021 representatives of the ministry took part in the 41st meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, where they notified the parties to the international treaty on the situation with the construction of a fence by Lithuania and Poland along the state borders with Belarus. Two months later, the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources sent a complaint to the Secretariat of the Bern Convention about the construction of the fence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

In March 2022, a letter signed by Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Andrei Khudyk was sent to Council of Europe Director General for Democracy Snezana Samardzic-Markovic with a request to initiate in the Council of Europe the consideration of a launch of operative monitoring of this situation as well as to give legal assessment of the actions of Poland in terms of implementation of the requirements under the Bern Convention.

On 6-7 April, the Bureau to the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention held a meeting, where administrative and organizational decisions concerning the implementation of the international treaty by the participating states were considered. However, after all the efforts made at the meeting, the question of the construction of the fence on the territory of the World Heritage site was not included in the agenda. “It is especially bewildering taking into account the fact that the working body of the international treaty indicated in its report, adopted at the end of its meeting in February, that the threat, which the fence represents, goes far beyond the borders of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and addressed the Bureau of the Standing Committee with a request to evaluate the possible negative impact of the fence along the whole Belarusian-Polish border,” Larisa Lukina said. “We also sent a letter to the UNESCO World Heritage Center with a request to draw Poland's attention to the necessity to comply with its international obligations and to urge Poland to stop building the fence.”

Andrei Khudyk raised this issue during the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly as well as during a special session of the Assembly. In his video address he drew attention of the participants to the situation with the construction of the fence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Council of Europe's Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) stipulate the obligation of state parties not to take any deliberate actions which could directly or indirectly damage the cultural and natural heritage located in the territory of other state parties, as well as to take into account the needs of conservation of areas under protection in order to avoid any degradation of such areas.

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