Situation in Belarus Statement by Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Chairman of the Committee of M

Strasbourg, 21.03.2006 - Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, Chairman-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, today made the following statement:

“Unfortunately, once again the people of Belarus were not given the chance to express their political options within a transparent and free electoral framework during the Presidential elections held on Sunday. As was concluded in the preliminary statement of the ODIHR Election Observation Mission, the elections were marred by the arbitrary use of state power and restrictions on basic rights.

Therefore it is difficult at this moment to assess the accuracy of the results of the election. Under these circumstances, the decision by the opposition to demonstrate peacefully is legitimate. As Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, I call upon the Belarusian authorities to show restraint and to refrain from any violent acts against the demonstrators. Any other behaviour could only reinforce their isolation from the international community.

Further concerned with the fate of the persons arbitrarily arrested before and after the elections, I urge the authorities to release these persons, to abolish legislation that restricts fundamental freedoms and rights and to proceed with democratic reforms for the benefit of the people of Belarus. We also expect that the government in Minsk will do the necessary to improve the dialogue with international organisations, in particular with the Council of Europe.”

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