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Belarus: OSCE Says Democracy Has Not Been Restored

Vienna, 16 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Belarus has failed to restore democracy despite repeated calls by the West to President Alyksandr Lukashenka to end the crisis in the former Soviet Republic.

The OSCE's new chairman, Niels Helveg Peterson, told the body's permanent council in Vienna today that the situation in Belarus has not improved.

Petersen, the Danish Foreign Minister, said he is therefore urging the Belarus government once again to take action to respect its commitments to OSCE norms and principles, to enter into dialogue with the opposition, and to ensure freedom of media and not restrict access to the media for members of the opposition.

In December, the OSCE summit in Lisbon called on Belarus to restore democracy and respect the constitution after a nationwide referendum which Lukashenka used to enhance his powers at the expense of parliament.

Petersen reiterated that the 54-member OSCE is willing to cooperate with Belarus "in overcoming deficiencies within the constitutional area."