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Belarus: EU Mission To Convey Criticism Of Lukashenka

By Joel Blocker and Ron Loggans

Brussels, 25 February 1997 (RFE/RL) -- European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers will send another mission to Belarus next week. Our correspondent reports the Foreign Ministers yesterday heard an oral report about the situation in Belarus. No details were released.

Information for the report was gathered last month in Minsk during a fact-finding mission, which included representatives of the EU, the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. Sources tell our correspondent the report was highly critical of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's November referendum and his dismissal of the democratically-elected parliament and that this will be conveyed to Lukashenka by next week's mission.

EU officials today tell RFE/RL that next week's EU mission will be headed by Aad Kosto, of the Netherlands. Kosto headed last month's fact-finding mission and delivered yesterday's report to the EU.

EU Foreign Ministers today are discussing Bulgaria. An EU spokesman says the EU is ready to provide aid, while noting what he called the "internal reasons" for Bulgaria's crisis. The spokesman said EU aid is contingent on Bulgaria reaching agreement on a reform program with the International Monetary Fund.

The EU spokesman said ministers today would also praise Slovakia's strong economic performance, but would remind Bratislava that future EU membership does not depend solely on economic progress. He notes continuing EU concerns about the process of democratization, freedom of the press, and human rights concerns, including rights of ethnic minorities.