EU: External Relations Commissioner Criticizes Local Elections in Belarus
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner has made a statement on the 14 January local elections in Belarus. “I deplore the fact that the 14 January local elections in Belarus did not meet democratic standards.
The fact that, in an overwhelming majority of electoral districts, there was no alternative to the candidate supported by the authorities indicates a blatant lack of democratic pluralism in these elections,” the EU Commissioner said.
“Restrictive rules on campaigning, as well as intimidation of candidates from the democratic opposition meant that freedom of expression, association and assembly were seriously undermined. These elections therefore failed to give Belarusian voters a genuine choice,” Benita Ferrero-Waldner noted.
The EU Commissioner has called upon the Belarusian authorities to move towards democracy, human rights and rule of law, including to meet international standards on elections and therefore to cooperate with the OSCE/ODIHR in the conduct of elections.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner reminds Belarusian authorities that the EU remains open to developing bilateral relations with Belarus, including in the context of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the European Neighbourhood Policy, provided the Belarusian authorities prove a sincere willingness to respect human rights, the rule of law and democratic values and initiate democratic reforms.