OSCE Minks office closes

The Minsk office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) stopped working on Thursday, Belarusian news agency BelaPAN reported.

The decision to close the office was adopted by the Belarusian authorities in late 2010.

On Dec. 31, 2011, Belarusian envoy to OSCE in Vienna Alexander Sychev informed members of the OSCE Permanent Council that the Belarusian authorities hadn't extended the mandate of the OSCE office in Minsk. According to the official, the decision was based on "the lack of objective justification for the conservation of the OSCE mission in Belarus."

OSCE enraged Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko when it cricized the way the votes was counted for the Dec. 19, 2010 presidential elections.

Most European countries and the United States condemned the decision of Minsk. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier issued a joint statement, expressing regret over this decision.


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