Austria - Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the elections in Belarus

Violent crackdown on demonstrators is unacceptable

"It is regrettable that the Minsk leadership has not seized the opportunity the elections could have presented for Belarus. Although the elections have demonstrated at least some progress in certain areas, the election process has again shown clear deficiencies. However, the violent crackdown on demonstrators can not at all be accepted", stated the Foreign Minister, expressing his concern about reports from Belarus on brutal police action against demonstrators following the end of the presidential elections on Sunday.

"Freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion are among Europe's fundamental values. Without them, democracy and the building of an open society is not possible. The European Union has pointed out time and again that the implementation of these values constitutes a precondition for intensifying and improving relations with Minsk. With its actions, the Belarusian leadership has taken a step away from the European community of values governed by the rule of law", declared Spindelegger. "We expect the release of all those arrested without delay as well as an examination of the attacks. The course of action taken by Minsk is all the more disappointing as the election campaign had given rise to hope."

The Foreign Minister stated that the EU would have to closely look into the situation in Belarus and Brussels' future relations with Minsk. "We do not want to isolate Belarus, but we will insist on the implementation of values and rights which are normally regarded as a matter of course, if the relationship with the European Union is to be consistently improved", concluded Spindelegger.


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