News / Europe

    US, EU to Review Belarus Relations After Minsk Crackdown

    Riot police clash with demonstrators trying to storm the government building in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, 19 Dec 2010
    Riot police clash with demonstrators trying to storm the government building in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, 19 Dec 2010

    The United States and European Union say they will review their relations with Belarus following the Minsk government's crackdown on opposition members after a disputed presidential election. U.S. and European officials reject the legitimacy of the vote-count last Sunday that gave longtime President Alexander Lukashenko an overwhelming win.

    The strongly-worded joint statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton reflects the degree of dismay and disappointment over what had been seen as an opportunity for Belarus to shed its authoritarian image.

    Official returns from the nominally-contested December 19 vote gave Mr. Lukashenko, a former Soviet official and the country's ruler since 1994, nearly 80 per cent of the vote.

    Security forces arrested more than 600 people after a massive rally gathered in central Minsk election night to protest an outcome widely seen by Western observers as fraudulent.

    In their joint statement, Clinton and Ashton called for the immediate release of the protesters, including at least seven opposition presidential candidates, and strongly condemned what they termed the "disproportionate" use of force against demonstrators.

    They said that taken together, the election and its aftermath represent an "unfortunate step backwards" in the development of democratic governance and respect for human rights in Belarus, and that the people of the country "deserve better."

    Clinton and Ashton said they will take the Lukashenko government's efforts to address the current situation into account as relations with Belarus are reviewed.

    There was no indication of what the outcome of the review might be. But State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said this week U.S. sanctions against Belarus, in place since a disputed 2004 referendum that allowed Mr. Lukashenko a third term in office, will remain.

    "Belarus and - President Lukashenko may well be a country that never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Our sanctions will continue in place, and it's tragic what Belarus - what has happened in Belarus," said Crowley. "Respect for the democratic process and human rights of its citizens is at the center of our relationship and our aspirations for Belarus."

    Hopes for change in Belarus had risen in recent years amid conciliatory gestures by the Lukashenko government including its release in 2008 of what were then considered the country's last political prisoners.

    Early this month, on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Kazakhstan, Clinton and Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov announced an agreement under which Belarus will give up a stockpile of Soviet-era highly enriched uranium.

    Spokesman Crowley on Tuesday expressed hope the election controversy will not derail the nuclear agreement, which he said is important for the world community and other states in the region.

    Clinton and High Representative Ashton said the United States and EU intend to continue engagement with the Belarusian people and civil society representatives.

    They urged Belarus to meet commitments to the OSCE and reform the electoral process, and to "create political space" for activists, civil society and independent journalists.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora