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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora