Lithuania wants joint European response to Belarus

Vilnius - Lithuanian Foreign Minster Audronius Azubalis, whose country chairs the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) this year, said Tuesday that a joint European response was needed to recent disputed elections in Belarus.

'We are keeping doors open and are holding consultations with the Belarusians,' Azubalis told a news conference at which Lithuania outlined its priorities for its 12-month tenure at the OSCE's helm.

Azubalis also confirmed that he had discussed on the situation in Belarus with Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

'We spoke about finding an adequate and unified response,' Azubalis told reporters without confirming whether or not he was in favour of renewing any form of sanctions against the Lukashenko regime following its latest brutal crackdown on the opposition.

The OSCE has harshly criticized Belarus for the December 19 poll in which incumbent President Aleksander Lukashenko won a landslide fourth term in office.

Last week, Minsk refused to renew the OSCE's mandate to maintain an office the Belarusian capital.

Azubalis said on Monday that he had started 'informal consultations to find an agreement acceptable to all' that would allow the OSCE to continue its work in the country.


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