sale Department

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
Your Excellency
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.
Yours sincerely
Mr Dick Spring TD
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreing Affairs
President of the Council of the European Union

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