The FINANCIAL -- VILNIUS. The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis, on March 31 said that he deeply regretted that despite numerous efforts by the Chairmanship, Belarus' authorities had not reconsidered their decision not to join consensus on the extension of the mandate of the OSCE Office in Minsk.
The mandate of the Office in Minsk expired at the end of last year, resulting in a three-month closure process that ended on March 31.
"For years, the OSCE Office in Minsk has benefited the people of Belarus. It has made a significant contribution in assisting and advising the authorities of Belarus on internal reforms, implementation of OSCE commitments and civil society development. It also has helped the country to address the environmental problems following the Chernobyl catastrophe and provided assistance on other key issues," Azubalis said.
"Regrettably, the Belarusian authorities chose not to join consensus in extending the mandate of the OSCE Office in Minsk, thus leaving important initiatives and projects unfinished, and civil society in Belarus deprived of a valuable interlocutor. The most effective delivery of OSCE assistance to Belarus would be through an OSCE presence on the ground."
Azubalis added that the OSCE would continue its engagement with Belarus in line with existing OSCE commitments across all three security dimensions – the politico-military, the economic and environmental and the human dimension – while the OSCE Chairmanship would continue its diplomatic efforts in close consultation with Belarusian authorities on the reestablishment of an OSCE presence in the country.
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