European parliamentarians cancel their visit to Minsk

2009 2009-04-01T17:35:23+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The European Parliament cancelled the visit of its members to Minsk scheduled for April 6–8.

As BelaPAN learnt from Jan Marinus Wiersma, Dutch MEP and vice president of the Party of European Socialists group, the Belarusian authorities didn’t agree with the visit format suggested.

The European Parliament members planned to have a number of meetings with officials, opposition and civil society representatives, and to have an unofficial meeting with members of the Belarusian House of Representatives. Jan Wiersma noted that the official meeting with Belarusian colleagues was ‘too hasty’, for the parliamentary elections in Belarus in September 2008 were recognized undemocratic by the European Parliament.

The MEP expressed his regret over cancellation of the visit. Last week, he addressed the Belarusian embassy in Brussels and offered to ‘review the decision and study the visit agenda’. According to Wiersma, the EU is ready to invite Lukashenka for a summit in Prague, and the Belarusian government refuse a visit to representatives of the European Parliament.

It should be reminded that the final report of the OSCE/ODIHR mission says that despite ‘some minor improvements’, the elections in Belarus fell short of OSCE commitments. In particular, electoral laws don’t allow ‘genuine political competition, and equal treatment of election competitors by the authorities’ and continue ‘to present obstacles to the conduct of elections’ in line with democratic commitments. Experts note that the Electoral Code of Belarus ‘does not provide any clear mechanism for securely keeping the ballot boxes after the start of early voting, nor does it provide specific regulations for enhancing the integrity of the ballot’. Most opposition nominees were denied registration ‘for minor breaches of formal requirements’, the report underlines. According to experts of the mission, it creates conditions for falsification.