News from Byelorussian Parliament (Supreme Soviet)
Office of the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreing Affairs
21 November 1996
Mr. Slexandr Lukashenko
President of the Republic of Belarus
I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the Council of the
European Union to express the concern of the Union at the sharpening divisions
within Belarussian society over the proposed referendum issue, in particular
since the Constitutional Court ruling of 4 November. These divisions have
been manifested, inter alia, in the demonstrations in Minsk last weekend
and by the resignation of several leading members of the Belarussian administration,
including Prime Minister Cigir on 18 November.
The concern of the European Union with regard to the proposed referendum
has already been made known through the Union's Heads of Mission in Minsk
on 14 October in their meeting with Deputy Foreing Minister Sannikov.
I have to say that the EU deplores the manifest irregularities in the
preparations for, and conduct of, the referendum for which there is growing
evidence identified by the Supreme Soviet, Constitutional Court and Chairman
of the Cetral Electoral Commission. In this regard, the EU supports the
OSCE Statment on Belarus of 16 Novenber, which expresses serious doubts
about the constitutionaliry of the referendum process.
I would earnestly urge you to respect Belarus' OSCE commitments, and
to work, in the framework of OSCE norms and respect for democratic principles,
to resolve political differences through negotiation and compromise to
create a climate in which the challenging issues facing Belarus can be
effectively addressed. In particular, the EU emphasises the need to respect
internationally accepted constructional principles including separation
of powers, parliamentary prerogatives and the need for the free and open
debate to ensure wide consent for any constitutional changes. In this regard,
the European Union would urge you to enter into immediare and urgent dialogue
with the concerned parties.
I would like to assure you that the EU desires a close and cooperative
relationship with a Belarus which is committed to democratic principles
and economic reform in keeping with a Belarus which the General Principles
of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between EU and Belarus. I
regret to say that Belarus' commitment to these principles appears to be
increasingly in doubt, and without evidence of a willingness to progress
in these areas, it will inevitably be difficult for the EU to further develop
its relations with Belarus.
The European Union fully appreciates the challenge for Belarus in implementing
political and economic reform, and I would like to assure you of the Union's
readiness to provide all practical assistance to Belarus in this difficult,
but necessary, task.
Mr Dick Spring TD
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreing Affairs
President of the Council of the European Union
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