Netherlands: Verhagen said Belarusian elections to be closely monitored

The Netherlands will send seven observers to Belarus to determine whether the parliamentary elections on 27 September are free and fair. Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen announced this today at a meeting with the Belarusian opposition leader and human rights activist Alaksandr Kazulin.

Mr Kazulin was recently released from prison, following pressure from the European Union on his country's government. The foreign minister saw the release of political prisoners like Mr Kazulin as a positive step. However, he went on to say that improvement was needed in many areas, and that the Netherlands would be monitoring the situation and the course of the elections very closely.

The EU imposed sanctions against Belarusian leaders to compel more respect for human rights, transparency and democracy. The opposition leader expressed his appreciation of the fact that the Netherlands is only prepared to talk about relaxing sanctions once democratic elections have taken place.

The Dutch election observers will form part of a mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).



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