646th Meeting of the Permanent Council of the OSCE
The European Union regrets that it has to raise its concerns about the local elections in Belarus held on 14 January 2007. Numerous reports of serious flaws lead us to the conclusion that the Belarusian authorities failed once again to ensure the fundamental conditions for free, fair and transparent elections according to OSCE commitments and other international standards.
Representatives of opposition parties were denied access to election commissions. A number of candidates affiliated with opposition parties were not registered or deprived of their registration at a late stage. Reports of police raids on campaign offices, seizures of campaigning material, and detentions of political activists and election observers are equally worrying. The use of administrative resources by the authorities to support pro-government candidates as well as to coerce voters into voting early also raises concerns.
The European Union therefore calls on the Government of Belarus to accept the offer by OSCE / ODIHR to support it in conducting elections in line with OSCE commitments and other international standards. The European Union also hopes that Belarus will engage constructively with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media as well as the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE which have also presented valuable proposals for closer co-operation with Belarus.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine align themselves with this statement.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.