Posted: 08.01.2024 17:16:00

Rationale for decision not to invite OSCE observers to Single Voting Day in Belarus explained

Belarus has always taken a responsible approach to fulfilling its international obligations, traditionally inviting OSCE observers to domestic elections, even despite the predominantly biased nature of assessments and conclusions – as noted by Andrei Dapkiunas, the Permanent Representative of Belarus to International Organisations in Vienna


The diplomat said that he had talked today with the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Matteo Mecacci, “This OSCE institution is responsible for election observation. Following the Foreign Ministry’s instruction, I informed the Office Director that Belarus would refrain from inviting the OSCE observation mission to the parliamentary elections on February 25th. I also communicated the arguments and motivation of the Belarusian side to him.”

Speaking about the reasons, Mr. Dapkiunas noted, “Firstly, this is the state of the OSCE election observation system. It is characterised by certain geographical and functional distortions, and this concerns a free choice of the observation format and an unequal number of observers who are sent by decision of the Bureau to the countries of the East and the West. This is also the traditional dominance of representatives of Western countries in the OSCE observation missions. We believe that this imbalance has become possible due to the lack of uniform standards in the OSCE, which are accepted by all countries with reference to the international election observation. Belarus has paid attention to this aspect more than once.”

The diplomat recalled that Belarus, together with Russia and other countries, has repeatedly proposed to develop common norms for electoral monitoring in order to prevent the use of double standards, “Unfortunately, this initiative was rejected, and double standards in the organisation of electoral observation through the OSCE remain to this day. Belarus is ready to continue to seek the introduction of such clear standards, based on which the OSCE monitoring would work with view on the approaches determined by all member states.”

The well-known atmosphere of international co-operation in the OSCE is another reason for the decision taken by the Belarusian authorities. Mr. Dapkiunas explained, “Over the past three or four years, the degradation of interstate co-operation both bilaterally and within the organisation has reached a critical point. This is actually manifested in an acute crisis of trust, in violation of the tradition of a respectful and diplomatically correct dialogue. It is also seen in the growing hostility and ostracism in relations between countries. To our great regret, this casts doubt on the possibility of the OSCE members to traditionally fulfil their obligations within the organisation.”

The diplomat also recalled that Western countries have imposed and continue to impose unjustified political and economic sanctions – ‘including in relation to members of the Central Election Commission and deputies of the Belarusian Parliament’. “By doing so, they have completely undermined the confidence of the Belarusian authorities towards themselves. The European Union has included all members of the Central Election Commission, as well as Belarusian parliamentarians, in the sanctions list. This means a de facto ban on their participation in election observation by the ODIHR, the OSCE PA and the EU states.”

Another factor that complicates the invitation of international observers from the OSCE is the deterioration, due to the fault of the West, of the logistical possibilities of exit and entry to Belarus for foreign citizens as a result of the closure of border checkpoints by Belarus' western neighbours, and the restriction of air traffic with the republic. “The Belarusian leadership believes that the sanctions imposed by the West grossly violate the OSCE commitments and the organisation’s basic principles. This primarily concerns freedom of movement and contacts between people. Sanctions hinder economic growth and sustainable development," Mr. Dapkiunas noted.

At the same time, the diplomat stressed, “This decision does not mean a refusal to co-operate in election observation through the OSCE. The Belarusian side will be ready to change its approaches regarding the invitation of OSCE observers when the West finds the strength, opportunities and courage to abandon the sanctions policy and attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus. At the same time, Belarus remains open to unbiased electoral observation, which will traditionally be organised through the CIS, the CSTO, the Union State, the SCO and other structures, as well as individual observers who are ready for an objective assessment of the electoral campaign in the country.”