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OSCE Summit: Final Declaration Fails To Mention Belarus, Yugoslavia

  • Roland Eggleston



Lisbon, 3 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The European security conference has issued its final declaration in Lisbon without mentioning the constitutional crisis in Belarus and demonstrations in Yugoslavia. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum told reporters that most Western countries were "deeply disappointed" with the omission at the end of the conference today. Diplomats in Lisbon told RFE/RL that the omission was prompted by a veto imposed by Belarus with the support of Russia and other countries.

Diplomats also said that Russia was responsible for the deletion from the final declaration of a reference to the political problems related to the annulment of recent regional elections in Serbia.

In a separate statement, leading countries in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) urged Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to bring back democracy and respect the constitution to end the crisis in the former Soviet republic.

The statement was issued by foreign ministers of three countries -- Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark -- which currently guide OSCE policy as the so-called "troika." The OSCE monitors human rights and democracy throughout Europe.

The statement said the recent controversial referendum which gave Lukashenka enhanced powers and extended his term "was conducted in contradiction with constitutional procedures and cannot be considered as legitimate."

The statement urged Lukashenka to engage in political dialogue with his opposition, allow freedom of the media and "re-establish full respect for internationally-accepted democratic and constitutional principles and practices."

Lukashenka has had to listen to a series of similar appeals and strong criticisms from other leaders during the two-day summit. He has dismissed all criticism as meddling and insists the referendum is legally binding and democratic. He also denies there is any crisis in Belarus.

As the OSCE-sponsored summit concluded today, leaders of more than 50 nations meeting in Lisbon agreed to a declaration enshrining democracy and respect for human rights as the guiding principles for the European Continent.

The OSCE adopted the declaration after a last minute compromise prevented a dispute between two of its members states from blocking the declaration.

Armenia had refused to agree to a demand from Azerbaijan that the OSCE formerly endorse Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, which would include the ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh. A last minute compromise proposed by the United States removed the disputed language from the summit declaration, but had it included in a separate document.

The dispute had threated to derail the two-day OSCE summit's final declaration because the OSCE is a consensus body where all decisions must be adopted unanimously.

Yesterday, the summit agreed to begin negotiations on updating a 1990 treaty limiting the size of conventional forces in Europe. The decision is in response to claims by Russia that the treaty needs to be revised in light of political changes in Europe.
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