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OSCE Summit: Belarus' President Lukashenka Rejects Criticism

Lisbon, 1 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The president of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has told the European security organization that the constitutional crisis is over and he does not need its assistance.

Lukashenka made the comments to Giancarlo Aragona, secretary-general of the Organization for Security and CoOperation in Europe (OSCE), who spent two days in Minsk last week. Aragona has circulated a report on his talk with Lukashenka at the European Summit in Lisbon.

Diplomats said the Belarus crisis will almost certainly be discussed at the two-day summit beginning tomorrow. Lukashenka is scheduled to arrive in Lisbon later today.

In his report, the OSCE secretary general says Lukashenka told him the constitutional changes had won the support of the Belarus people in this month's controversial referendum. Lukashenka rejected criticisms of the referendum and said it clearly had a legally-binding character and was in full accordance with Belarus constitutional law.

The OSCE secretary-general said he expressed the grave concern of the other members of the OSCE and asked how OSCE could help in the crisis. His report says: "President Lukashenka responded that while two or three weeks ago there might have been a constitutional crisis, it was now over as the referendum had been successfully completed and the transformation of parliament was implemented on the basis of the new constitution."

He said Belarus remained ready to co-operate with the OSCE "but as of now, the tension is over and the constitutional question has clearly been resolved. he sees no possibility for concrete steps in this respect."

Aragona said he also discussed the problem with the Belarus foreign minister, Uladimir Syanko. Aragona's report says the foreign minister "also expressed the interest of his country in co-operating with the OSCE but saw no possibilities for concrete steps at this moment."

The president of the constitutional court, Mr. Tikhinya, told the OSCE secretary general that the court's view was that the referendum could only have an advisory character according to Belarus law. He said the president's statement that it was legally binding had created a constitutional crisis because there were now two conflicting constitutions in force.

The OSCE secretary-general also discussed the situation with the chairman of the Supreme Council, Mr. Sharetzky. He was accompanied by the deputy chairman, Mr. Karpenka, the leader of the communist faction, My. Kalyakin and the chairman of the committee for public relations, Mr. Kravchenko.

They stated that the result of the referendum did not reflect the will of the people. Aragona's report says "they said there had been numerous cases of threats and other illegalities from the side of the president in order to achieve a favorable result.They said the OSCE should take the situation in hand to help prevent further deterioration of the crisis."