Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the EU on pre-election situation in Belarus


Brussels, 9 March 2006

7205/06 (Presse 75)

The European Union is very concerned about the situation in the run-up to the 19 March Presidential elections in Belarus and the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in the country. Therefore, the European Union calls on the Belarusian authorities to take all necessary steps in order to assure a free and fair electoral process.

The European Union welcomes the emergence of democratically selected politicians in Belarusian civil society who are determined to give their fellow citizens an alternative choice for the future of their country. The European Union is dismayed by reports of serious violations of candidates' campaigning rights in the run-up to the Presidential elections, and the intimidation, detention and violence against one candidate in particular, as occurred on 2 March 2006. Detention of campaign activists, searches of campaign offices, confiscation of campaign materials and interruption of campaign meetings were documented in the interim report of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission of 1 March 2006. The European Union firmly condemns these acts and once again calls on the Belarusian authorities to abide by international standards and Belarus' commitments in the OSCE and the UN frameworks to ensure equal campaigning rights for all candidates.

The European Union also urges the responsible Belarusian authorities to allow the Belarusian people to exercise fully their right of assembly and freedom of expression and to take all the necessary means to guarantee the personal security of peaceful demonstrators and all Presidential candidates.

As stated in the Council Conclusions of 7 November 2005 and 30 January 2006, the European Union will continue monitoring the situation in Belarus closely and will take further restrictive measures against the responsible individuals if the elections are not conducted according to international standards and in line with Belarus' commitments in the OSCE.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.