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

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs