Everything rosy? Spring protests, arrests slipped over in OSCE PA Minsk Declaration

At the last meeting of the 26th summer session held on July 9, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted the Minsk Declaration. The resolution on Eastern Europe, which criticizes Belarus, was excluded from it.

On July 8, at the Minsk session, the OSCE PA Human Rights Committee passed a resolution titled “The Situation in Eastern Europe” with criticism of the government of Belarus, Russia and Azerbaijan.

The Belarusian MPs and representatives of the Russian delegation blasted the resolution which laid stress on unfree elections, the death penalty as well as the presence of political prisoners in Belarus. To clarify the situation, the delegates of the Parliamentary Assembly held additional voting: 43 people voted “against” and the same number voted “for”. Twenty-nine parliamentarians abstained. Although the votes were equally divided, the resolution was not adopted.

“I am shocked at some countries’ voting results. Some British MPs were against, some Austrians remained neutral. There are Western European countries that failed to raised the issue, which offered the Eastern bloc a chance to obstruct the resolution,”- said Lithuanian deputy Laurynas Kasčiūnas.

At the same time, the Belarusian side received it as a step towards Belarus and attempt to establish further dialogue with the West.

“Each item of the resolution proposed by Swedish deputy Holm was amateurish. This is an outdated narrative of Belarus. In fact, the deputies rethought the approach and wordings within a day.  I am sure that there will be progress and that their view of Belarus has changed,” Belarusian MP Andrey Rybak said.

However, according to some MPs, the voting results do not mean a shift in the EU policy towards our country. To comply with the EU standards, Belarus still needs economic and political reforms.

“I was an observer during 15 elections in different OSCE countries, but I have never seen such deception as it was in Kastrychnitski district of Minsk where I participated in the vote count,” said Peter Osusky, a Slovak member of the OSCE PA.

Similarly, one has hardly seen such cruel treatment of peaceful protesters anywhere in Europe. In March-April, hundreds of Belarusian activists were arrested and battered. However, the OSCE PA delegates failed to take this fact into account by rejecting the resolution in Belarus.

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