Belarus is in favour of enhancing the OSCE’s role in restoring peace to Ukraine, as noted by President Alexander Lukashenko, on meeting the OSCE’s General Secretary, Lamberto Zannier, and the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Michael Georg Link.
Mr. Lukashenko reminded Mr. Link and Mr. Zannier that Belarus (with post-Soviet space partners) has proposed certain OSCE reforms. He stressed, “Unfortunately, these proposals are still being studied or are being blocked by certain states. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian crisis continues, showing us clearly that we need additional arguments today to strengthen the role of our organisation.”
The President noted that Belarus’ position regarding the OSCE is known. He emphasised, “We are unanimously in favour of strengthening the OSCE’s role in Europe, and believe that reform of the organisation should aim to considerably enhance its role.”
The Head of State underlined that the OSCE has taken action in helping neutralise the situation in Ukraine, saying, “It’s the only organisation which has played an important role in agreeing a ceasefire in Ukraine, but we’d like the OSCE to step up its efforts and play a more prominent role.”
Speaking about the role of Belarus, the Belarusian leader said that the OSCE is aware of our country’s efforts, being an engine of crisis settlement.
The Head of State explained that Belarus is keen to see the prompt settlement of the situation in Ukraine, since the conflict is ‘near our borders’. He asserts, “It isn’t happening in a remote country, like Libya, Syria or Iraq; this is a neighbouring country. Therefore, we’re concerned about the situation and would like to prevent escalation of the conflict.”
The meeting also tackled the OSCE’s election monitoring activity, as Belarus’ Presidential elections are to take place this year. “You may rest assured that we’ve invited all the representatives that you deem necessary,” said the Head of State. However, he admitted that he is not satisfied in how the OSCE organises its election monitoring, criticising a lack of universal rules or a common approach. He noted that his remark has nothing to do with receiving ‘more criticism than praise’.
The Head of State added that, alongside other former Soviet countries, Belarus has made suggestions regarding a new approach. “These may be discussed and adopted one day, but life goes on. We may agree or disagree, criticising each other or not. Nevertheless, we have commitments to honour to the OSCE,” emphasised Mr. Lukashenko.
He is pleased by the intensity of Belarus-OSCE co-operation and the number of projects accomplished in acting against human trafficking, while promoting border security and environmental protection. Projects for utilising liquid rocket fuel and those dealing with drugs trafficking are in the pipeline. The Head of State feels confident that Belarus and the OSCE can implement such projects, which are vital to Europe’s well-being.
The OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier, believes that Belarus is playing an important role in the peaceful regulation of the Ukrainian crisis. Speaking about the state of affairs in the OSCE, he noted that the organisation’s freedom to act is under some restriction and is convinced that this reflects the wider situation in Europe rather than a problem within the organisation itself.
By Vladimir Khromov