OSCE Evaluation of Independent Mass Media Situation in Belarus
Based on BelaPAN information
On Friday, 1 August, at the meeting with journalists in Minsk Heidi Smith spoke about the situation with independent mass media in Belarus. According to her, the OSCE authorities know about the situation with independent mass media here. For instance, it was pointed out at the report of Freimut Duve, OSCE commissary on freedom of press, on 30-31 July in Vena. “It is really the most serious problem in Belarus, and we do everything we can to prevent worsening of the situation”, -- emphasized H. Smith.
Till the end of the year the OSCE Minsk office intends to fulfill 13 projects in Belarus. A number of them are already over. Among them there are a seminar for Belarusian judges, the project of the water resources legislation development and support to the magistrate program of European Humanitarian University.
Smith pointed out at high activity level from the Belarusian side and informed that the OSCE office had difficulties in fulfillment of certain projects in Belarus. For instance, the Belarusian authorities are to blame that the seminar on development of the electoral legislation can’t be carried out. It was planned on the end of June – beginning of July. However, the Presidential administration disapproved of this measure. However, the OSCE workers still hope for receiving the permission.
One more educational project, for development of the local self-government, was to have been carried out on 21-21 July. Within the framework of this project representatives of State bodies and non-governmental regional organizations were to have familiarized with the system of the local self-government in Poland. However, several days before the departure the Belarusian authorities asked to postpone the journey for unknown time. “We consider it as delay of the visit, not its cancellation” – stated Heidi Smith. Similar journeys routes were planned to Lithuania, Latvia and Czech.
The press secretary also said that OSCE hadn’t planned any programs for 2004 as it was not known whether the authorities would prolong its mandate.