US, EU top officials: parliamentary elections far from international standards

Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Stefan Füle, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, in a joint statement issued on September 24, criticized the process of carrying out the 2012 elections for the House of Representatives.

“Yesterday’s parliamentary elections represent yet another missed opportunity to conduct elections in line with international standards in Belarus,” the statement said.

“The EU has followed closely developments during the pre-electoral period and on election day. There were some improvements in the electoral process, such as an improved Electoral Code, but regrettably the elections took place against the background of an overall climate of repression and intimidation.”

Ms. Ashton and Mr. Füle said that they noted the assessment by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that “the elections were not administered in an impartial manner, with key OSCE commitments not fully respected, including citizens’ rights to associate, to stand as candidates and to express themselves freely.”

The EU officials urged Minsk to “take steps to fully implement Belarus’ international commitments to democratic principles and human rights,” and expressed readiness to “assist Belarus to this end.”

According to Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson of the US Secretary of State, the September 23 parliamentary elections in Belarus fell short of international standards and their conduct cannot be considered free or fair. The preliminary assessment of the OSCE election observation mission found that the elections were “not competitive from the start.” The observer mission cited the limitation of choice for voters, the lack of impartiality on the part of the election commission, and the lack of proper counting procedures.

“The United States urges the authorities to take steps to meet Belarus’s international commitments to hold genuinely democratic elections and to foster respect for human rights. Enhanced respect for democracy and human rights in Belarus, including the release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners, remains central to improving bilateral relations with the United States,” the statement reads.


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