Ashton urges Belarus to engage in dialogue on reform

The trend set by the relative progress during the election campaign in Belarus was not followed by a transparent and fair polling process, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton commented on the results of the Belarusian presidential elections.

Catherine Ashton urged Belarus "to engage fully in dialogue with the OSCE/ODIHR on reform of the electoral code and how to best implement OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in this respect with a view to future elections."

The High Representative took "good note" of the preliminary findings of the OSCE/ODIHR-led International Election Observation Mission to the Belarusian presidential elections, which said Belarus still had a considerable way to go in meeting its OSCE commitments despite "some specific improvements."

In a statement issued earlier in Brussels she had said "It is especially regrettable that election night was marred by violence, which I strongly condemn. In particular, the beating and detention of several opposition leaders, including presidential candidates, is unacceptable."

The EU's policy of critical engagement envisaging "a deepening relationship with Belarus" is "conditional on respect for the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights," said Ashton, adding "The Union remains committed to strengthening its engagement with the Belarusian people and civil society." (ENPI Info Centre)


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