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Statements in International Organisations

19.01.2006

OSCE Permanent Council No. 588


EU statement on Belarus

 

1. Last week, the EU and the Chairman in Office called on Belarus to invite the ODIHR election observers for the upcoming Presidential elections. Today, the EU is pleased to note that such an invitation is issued. The EU  expects that all the necessary conditions will be created for the observers to fulfil their tasks and that Belarus fully respects its international commitments regarding free and fair elections.

2. We have been closely following the situation in Belarus after the announcement of the date for the presidential elections to be held on March 19. To our deep regret, we are continuously obtaining reports about the problems of the opposition candidates and their supporters, independent media and NGOs in their pre-election activities.

3. The EU calls on Belarus to follow a non discriminatory approach with regard to the registration of the presidential candidates and to ensure that the political campaigning will be conducted in a fair and free atmosphere without any administrative hindrance, interference or intimidation.

4. The EU has, however, repeatedly received information about the discriminatory approach of the Belarusian authorities towards the registration of the presidential candidates, including serious irregularities in the collection of signatures. We are also disturbed by reports that students are under the threat of expulsion from their schools for supporting the opposition or for not signing up to the registration charts of Mr. Lukashenko.

5. The EU has on numerous occasions recognised the indispensable role the independent media play in the democratic and pluralistic society, specifically in the election processes. Expressing once again our concerns about the continuing harassment against the independent media, we call on Belarus to make it possible for them to operate properly, and to guarantee equal and unimpeded access to the media, including those owned by the state, for all presidential candidates. The unimpeded access of the international media should also be ensured. We urge the Belarusian authorities to eliminate the existing obstacles that limit to a minimum the access of the population to free and impartial information.

6. We must also express our concerns about the adoption of the undemocratic legislation creating criminal penalties for “discrediting Belarus” which threaten freedoms of speech and assembly.  We urge the Belarusian authorities to cease their politically motivated attacks and harassment of NGOs and opposition structures, in particular the Belarus Helsinki Committee.

7. The EU stresses its willingness to develop its relations with Belarus. This would however only be possible if Belarus demonstrates in practice its willingness to respect democratic values, human rights and freedoms and the rule of law.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia [1] and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.

 

[1] Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process

 

Date: 26.01.2006