Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 175

The government of Belarus reacted bitterly over the weekend to two decisions just taken by the European Union. The EU Committee of Foreign Ministers, accusing official Minsk in effect of bad faith, resolved to end its sponsorship and mediation of the political dialogue between President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s administration and the legitimate parliament leadership. At the same time, the EU Council resolved to reduce contacts with the Belarus government to a minimum. The EU Council expressed concern over the stoppage of economic and political reforms and the suppression of human rights by the government. The Foreign Ministry of Belarus replied in a special statement that it wishes to continue the dialogue, but accused the EU of exerting "pressures upon a sovereign state."

The new U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, Daniel Speckhardt, announced at his first news conference in Minsk that the U.S. supports the country’s sovereignty and wants to see a reformed Belarus joining Europe. Speckhardt said that he will "build on the good work of his predecessor," implicitly dispelling official Minsk’s professed notion that the change of ambassadors entailed a change of policy. Speckhardt warned the government of Belarus to "stop going backwards on the road to nowhere."

Last week, Belarusan foreign minister Ivan Antanovich had agreed to a decision by the OSCE Permanent Council to send to Belarus a consultative and monitoring group mandate to promote human rights and democracy in the country. (International and Russian agencies, September 19-21)

Georgia Reforming State Security Ministry.