Switzerland - Statement by the Heads of Governments of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia on Belarus

We met in Bratislava on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Visegrad Group, founded on the pillars of freedom, democracy, shared values and regional cooperation. We have a strong common interest in promoting these same values and principles in our Eastern neighbourhood. Positive steps could bring us closer together and help intensify our relationship.

Therefore, we are seriously concerned with the events that occurred in the aftermath of the fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus on 19 December 2010. The election night was marked by violence committed by the Belarusian authorities.

We extend our resolute call on the authorities in Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners and to rehabilitate them;

We demand to stop political repression and harassment of the opposition, independent media and civil society;

We request the Government of Belarus to guarantee full respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Belarusian citizens;

We remind the Government of Belarus of the necessity to meet all its OSCE commitments regarding free and fair elections and electoral legislation that meets democratic standards and allows a free political competition, and urge the Government of Belarus to renew the mandate of the OSCE Office in Minsk;

We endorse the travel ban and asset freeze imposed by the European Union against those representatives in Belarus who are responsible for the flawed elections and the crackdown on civil society and democratic opposition;

We praise the efforts of the people and civil society in Belarus who are actively engaged in defending democracy and the rule of law. We reiterate our strong commitment to strengthening our engagement with Belarusian civil society and to facilitating people-to-people contacts. In this regard, we refer to the results of the donor conference held in Poland on 2 February 2011;

We will continue to closely follow the situation in Belarus and remain committed to our policy of critical engagement, including through dialogue and the Eastern Partnership, conditional on the respect for the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.


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