Belarus faces tough world's reactions after elections

MINSK, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Belarus is facing tough reactions from the world after its Central Election Commission announced Monday that about 80 percent of Belarus' voters had chosen incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko as their leader for the next five years.

While leaders of Iran, Venezuela and Kazakhstan quickly congratulated President Lukashenko for his victory after preliminary results were announced, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: "Election is an internal affair of any state." And observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States said it recognized the results.

However, the European Union (EU) member countries and Western countries are not positive.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said it regretted that the Belarusian authorities failed to provide its citizens with freedom of assembly and used force against demonstrators.

The Polish Foreign Ministry denounced the "massacre and detention of protestors in the streets of Minsk" and called for immediate release of detainees.

The United States said it didn't recognize the results. Washington had upheld the sanctions against Belarus, said U.S. Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley.

Canada also announced its intention to extend the restrictions on official contacts and trade with Belarus.

Local analysts said the EU could reduce the level of contacts and impose visa sanctions against the heads of Belarus' electoral commission and enlarge the list of banned goods, but it is unlikely to impose economic sanctions against the country.

Analyst Vyacheslav Pozniak said the EU's sanctions would not include important multilateral programs and ban contacts above the ministerial level to avoid the freezing of the EU-Belarus ties.

Stefan Fule, European commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, said that the EU is ready to continue the relationship with Minsk, including the integration of the Belarusian civil society in the EU.

But he stressed that the detention of protesters on Dec. 19 in Minsk was "unacceptable."

Pozniak said Fule's reaction was mild, showing the EU behaves very carefully and will continue to develop bilateral cooperation with Belarus.

The analyst also said Belarus is interested in maintaining relations with the EU. "The country has to find new markets for its products. And Europe is a good market for it," he said.

He cited Belarus Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Voronetskii as saying that "Belarus is interested in dialogue, considers possibilities of implementing many joint projects...under consideration in Brussels".

Voronetskii said Belarus would continue the alignment of its foreign policy on a multi-vector basis, adding that the priorities in foreign policy will be Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Iran and China.

After winning the elections, Belarusian President Lukashenko said his country was ready to be a partner for the EU on an equal footing. "Belarus is ready to build cordial relations with the EU, if the EU adopts an appropriate attitude toward Belarus," he said.

He stressed that Belarus is also "interested in establishing cooperation with those countries which respect Belarus and the Belarusian people on the basis of mutual benefit.


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