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Belarus/Russia: U.S. Reserves Judgment On Unity Proposal

Washington, 15 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday the United States "will reserve judgment" on a Russian proposal to speed up plans to merge with Belarus.

Burns said, however, the United States believes that any kind of change of borders or integration between states in that part of the world "ought to reflect the will of the people, not just the will of the governments involved."

He said that "in the case of Belarus it's a little difficult to assess the will of the people." Burns added, "We hear what the government says every day but we are not sure what the people are thinking."

Burns said "It's one thing for the president of a country like the president of Belarus to stand up and say 'let's do this.' It's quite another for the people to say in a valid referendum...yes we agree. I don't believe that's happened yet in the case of Belarus."

Burns said the United States will try to find out what the facts are in the situation before assessing the unity proposal.