President Levits suggests OSCE assessment of Belarus election

Latvian President Egils Levits issued a statement August 10 expressing hope that the Organization for Security and Economic Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) might be able to intervene to improve the situation in Belarus after President Alexader Lukashenko launched violent suppression of protests against an unbelievable election landslide in his favor.

"As a neighbor of Belarus, Latvia fully supports the deep desire of the Belarusian people to live in their own independent, free and democratic Belarus governed by the rule of law," Levits said.

"I call on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other competent international organizations, in consultation with all stakeholders, to investigate the recent electoral process - the pre-election campaign, election results, and aftermath, to verify and assess the compliance of these elections with the standards of free and democratic elections," Levits said.

However such a task is not likely to be easy given the fact that Lukashenko banned all election observers, including from the OSCE, of which both Latvia and Belarus are members.

Levits also called on the Belarus authorities to release those detained during the elections and to respect human rights and press freedom, despite negligible evidence of such things being high on Lukashenko's priorities duting his 26-year-long rule.

Provisional results of the elections suggested Lukashenko had secured around 80% of the vote, a figure so clearly at odds with the public mood in Belarus as to simply confirm his dictatorial status. 

Latvia and Belarus are due to co-host the World Ice Hockey Championships next year.  

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs took a slightly more definitive line on events in Minsk, issuing a statement August 10 saying:

"The Foreign Ministry notes that the presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August did not meet the standards of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We call on the Belarus government and law enforcement authorities to respect the civil liberties and the right of the people of Belarus to express their political views freely. The use of force against peaceful protesters is unacceptable. The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls for the immediate release of the detained protesters."

"Latvia regrets that international observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europe were not able to participate in the election observation. The work of the media in covering the election process was also limited. It is negative that several presidential candidates were denied the opportunity to register for the elections," it added.

"Only by respecting fundamental democratic rights and freedoms is a positive development in EU-Belarus relations possible. Latvia, as a neighbor of Belarus, is interested in such a development," it concluded.

Subsequently, both the President and the Foreign Ministry issued statements in English, too, both of which can be read via the links below.

At lunchtime, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš gave is own view on events.

 

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