News / Europe

US, EU, Criticize Belarus Expulsion of OSCE Monitors

The building with the office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is seen in Belarusian capital Minsk, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.
The building with the office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is seen in Belarusian capital Minsk, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.

The United States and European Union Tuesday jointly criticized the Belarus government's decision to close the OSCE monitoring mission in Minsk that had called the country's December presidential election badly flawed. The State Department indicated there may be new U.S. action against the Belarus government of President Alexander Lukashenko.

In a joint statement, the United States and European Union have expressed regret over the Minsk government's closure of the OSCE office, and say the December elections and their aftermath represent a "step backwards" for democratic governance in Belarus.

The country's multi-candidate presidential campaign had raised hopes for an easing of conditions in a country often described as Europe's last dictatorship.

But announced results from the December 19th election gave incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko nearly 80 per cent of the vote, spawning election-night protests and a violent crackdown by security forces on demonstrators in Minsk.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitoring mission had called the election seriously flawed and also condemned the violent dispersal of the demonstrators.

Tuesday's statement said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton regret the action against the OSCE mission, call for the immediate release of all those still detained, and urge the Lukashenko government to fulfill reform commitments to the OSCE.

State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said the OSCE had been playing an important role in Belarus and that the United States is considering punitive action. "We're very concerned about the fact that, I believe, every single person who ran against President Lukashenko is now in custody. This violates all international norms. So we are very concerned about what is happening in the country, and have a variety of options as we evaluate the implications of this," he said.

The United States has long had a variety of political and economic sanctions in place against the government of Mr. Lukashenko, a former Soviet official who has ruled the country with an authoritarian hand since 1994.

But the measures were eased somewhat in 2008 after the country released the last detainees considered political prisoners.

Spokesman Crowley would not be specific about possible new U.S. sanctions but said a "range" of options are available regarding travel, economic ties and assistance.

News reports from Brussels Tuesday said the European Union may re-impose a travel ban on Mr. Lukashenko and other officials that had been lifted in 2008.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists Monday urged the European Union to condition diplomatic relations with Belarus on the release of recently arrested journalists, and an end to the Minsk government's crackdown on independent media.

The group said two Belarusian journalists have been formally indicted and face long prison terms for fomenting mass disorder, and that others - beaten during the post election crackdown - remain in detention.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid