The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement expressing regret at Belarus's decision to close the Minsk office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE):
"Canada is deeply disappointed by the Government of Belarus's decision to close the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Office in Minsk.
"Established in 1998, the Office has provided valuable support to the promotion of institution-building, consolidate the rule of law and develop relations with civil society in accordance with OSCE principles and commitments.
"The OSCE has been conducting important work in areas such as the promotion of democracy and human rights in Belarus, and this work should continue. The need for such work has been clearly underlined by the violence and repression that followed the December 19, 2010, presidential election.
"The closure of the OSCE Office in Minsk is a further indication that we are witnessing a regrettable step backwards in Belarus. I reiterate my call for the authorities to change direction and uphold democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law."