Statement of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Czech Republic about Reasons for Refusal to Issue Visa for Lukashenka
Today Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided not to issue visa for Belarusian president Lukashenka. This decision concerns only Lukashenka’s person, all other members of Belarusian delegation to Prague summit received visas. Czech Republic has been concerned with the situation in Belarus for a long time as there exists an authoritarian regime that suppresses all manifestations of opposition-mindedness and continues the practice of mass violations of human rights.
As well as all other OSCE members, Czech Republic was indignant with the fact that on October 29 the last foreign representative of OSCE was forced to leave Belarus by refusal of Belarusian Foreign Affairs Ministry to prolong her visa. The international community won’t only criticize this incident in the row of analogous incidents with Miensk authorities. In the European Community there grows the conviction that it is necessary to take appropriate measures concerning the Belarusian regime.
Belarus has only recently changed its mind and decided that at this Prague summit it will be represented by president Lukashenka, not by Minister of Foreign Affairs, as it happened last time. NATO didn’t welcome this decision and made a number of hints for Belarus, the most noticeable of which was the refusal of Czech authorities to issue visa to Lukashenka.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic didn’t want to make this decision immediately, as it believed that Belarus would decrease the level of its representation of the summit independently. Instead of this Belarus proceeded to inadmissible threats not only to Czech Republic, but to all Europe which is an evident demonstration of Lukashenka’s style in politics.
Czech Republic is interested in participation of Belarus in Council of Euro-Atlantic Partnership which makes participation of its delegation at Prague CEAP summit desirable. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes that the decision to issue visas to Belarusian delegation concerns not only the interest of Czech side in participation of Belarus in CEAP. It is demonstration of recognition and respect to Belarusian publicity for we know about its European orientation and have always tried to support it in our bilateral relations.
Independent and democratic Belarus is an important part of Europe in such spheres as security, energy, transport, illegal migrations, etc.. Czech side states that the decision not to issue visa to Lukashenka is demonstration of our attitude to his person, but by no means to Belarus and its people. Ministry of Foreign Affairs also declares its long-term support to democratic groups and forces in the Republic of Belarus that try to change the internal country relations in accordance with European and international standards.
Prague, November 15, 2002
Information Department of PA HRC “Viasna”