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Lithuania Wants Joint European Response To Belarus

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis (file photo)

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis (file photo)

Lithuanian Foreign Minster Audronius Azubalis says that a joint European response is needed to recent events in Belarus.

He told a news conference in Vilnius that "we are keeping doors open and are holding consultations with the Belarusians."

Last week, Minsk refused to renew the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mandate to maintain an office in the Belarusian capital.

"We deeply regret and [we are] deeply disappointed by the closure of the OSCE office in Minsk, first of all," Azubalis said. "But now we should collect the opinions of all members of the OSCE and think how we should develop our relations with official Minsk in the future. This is, I think, the main challenge which lies ahead for our chairmanship."

Azubalis said on January 3 that he had started "informal consultations to find an agreement acceptable to all" that would allow the OSCE to continue its work in the country.

Lithuania has taken over the OSCE's rotating chair for 2011.

At least 22 journalists are still behind bars since the crackdown following the December 19 presidential election.

compiled from agency reports