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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid