Accessibility links

Breaking News

Belarus: OSCE Seriously Concerned About Political Situation

Vienna, 24 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says it remains "seriously concerned" about the situation in Belarus because of the political actions of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The statement was issued in Copenhagen yesterday after a meeting of OSCE's controlling troika -- the foreign ministers of Denmark, Poland and Switzerland. Denmark is this year's chairman of OSCE.

The statement said the foreign ministers reaffirmed the concerns expressed to Lukashenka at the OSCE summit in Lisbon last month about the conduct of the constitutional referendum and other political developments.

The statement says the foreign ministers: "called on the government of Belarus to take action to respect fully OSCE norms, principles and commitments."

It called on the government to "enter into dialogue with the opposition, ensure freedom of the media and freedom of movement of persons." It said the government should not restrict access to the media for members of the opposition.

The foreign ministers' statement welcomed the European Union decision to send a fact-finding mission to Belarus. It said that dependent on the outcome of this mission the OSCE will consider the possibility of sending a personal representative of the chairman-in-office (Denmark) to Minsk.

Our correspondent says Belarus, assisted by Russia, blocked any mention of the Belarus constitutional crisis in the final document of last month's Lisbon summit. Since each paragraph in the document required the consensus of all participating states, they issued a simple veto on any mention of Belarus.

However, several government leaders expressed their concern in statements to the summit. In his own speech, President Lukashenka denied there was a political crisis in Belarus and said the referendum was conducted in full conformity with the acting constitution. He said there were no grounds for suggesting the referendum results were illegitimate.