No alternative to mutual dialogue and co-operation

Interaction between Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and Belarus in electoral process is vital, notes PACE Rapporteur on Belarus, Andrea Rigoni, speaking at roundtable, at the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus
“I believe that Belarusians should be invited to participate in all PACE activities in this field,” asserted Mr. Rigoni. The PACE representative noted that, for example, he would like to invite Belarus’ representatives to attend the conference on media and elections which will be held in Berlin on June 5th.

During roundtable at House of Representatives

“It is an honour for me to represent PACE here in the capacity of rapporteur. We began thinking about holding this roundtable immediately after the elections in 2015,” said Mr. Rigoni. He believes that it’s good to discuss what worked well in Belarus during the election campaign of 2015 and to see what can be improved upon regarding the electoral process. He also wishes to improve co-operation between Belarus and the Venice Commission, saying, “It’s no coincidence that its representative is attending this roundtable discussion.” 

Mr. Rigoni noted that all members of the Council of Europe and the OSCE regularly receive recommendations on how to improve the electoral process. “It’s not only a matter for Belarus,” stressed Mr. Rigoni, adding that he has participated in election observation since 2001, across 55 missions. “In all countries, we try to improve basic standards for elections,” he explained.

The forthcoming parliamentary elections in Belarus in September 2016 will be a fundamental step for Belarus and the normalisation of its relations with the Council of Europe and the European Union. “We all believe that Belarus should be part of PACE,” underlined Mr. Rigoni. He hopes that PACE will have an opportunity to observe the parliamentary elections in Belarus this year.

The Belarusian Parliament attaches great importance to co-operation with the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, noted Gennady Gritskevich, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of Belarus on State Building, Local Government and Regulations, during the roundable discussion at the House of Representatives.

“The National Assembly of Belarus stays committed to universal electoral procedures and attaches great importance to all-round co-operation with PACE, OSCE and other international organisations, including on issues relating to election organisation. Thanks to seminars and conferences, we’ve established close ties that take into account all the main aspects of law-enforcement practices,” the MP asserted.

“During our years of independence, the electoral legislation of the Republic of Belarus has evolved consistently. As a result of modernisation of all spheres of public life, the country has created a modern electoral system that meets the highest democratic requirements,” Mr. Gritskevich said. He added that Belarus has carried out systematic work on improving electoral legislation. “The country has amended the Election Code many times in order to democratise the electoral process, including taking into account OSCE/ODIHR recommendations.”

The roundtable at the House of Representatives was attended by representatives of both houses of the Belarusian Parliament, as well as from PACE, OSCE ODIHR, the European External Action Service, the European Parliament, the Centre for European Perspective, the CIS Executive Committee, and public organisations. The Head of the Belarusian CEC, Lidia Yermoshina, also took part.

By Alexander Pimenov

Photo BelTA
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