The United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union on behalf of the EU Member States represented in Minsk urged the Belarusian authorities “to take the measures necessary to hold a safe, peaceful, free and fair election and to ensure fundamental freedoms”. This call was expressed in their joint statement as Belarus begins the process of selecting its president. The elections will take place on 09 August.
“We expect Belarus to invite officially OSCE/ODIHR observers in due time and urge the Belarusian authorities to demonstrate in deeds its willingness to make progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the previous OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Reports. Noting in particular that the process of registration of candidates should be fair and transparent, we emphasize that no politically motivated restrictive measures should prevent potential candidates fulfilling the registration procedure”, – said the statement.
The Western countries also recommend adopting the WHO’s recommendations of physical distancing to minimize the COVID-19 threat “in a way which allows all candidates an equal chance to campaign and inform voters about what they stand for”.
They recall that “a genuinely pluralistic composition of election commissions is key to promoting confidence in the election administration. Media freedom and the right of peaceful assembly are essential to legitimate elections. Journalists must be able to report freely and unhindered. Citizens must be allowed to peacefully express their opinions. This is why we are also concerned regarding the recent detentions of peaceful protesters and imprisonments of journalists”.
The EU countries, USA and UK pointed out that they are friends of the Belarusian people and there was some progress in their relations with Minsk over the past few years: the signing of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with the EU and the doubling of its financial support; the decision to resume relations with the United States at ambassadorial level, the visit of the Secretary of State to Minsk, and the first shipment of U.S. oil; the opening up of EIB and EBRD for loans, etc. The Western countries recall that “tangible steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, rule of law and human rights will remain key for the shaping of our future policy towards Belarus”.