independent version
. . . .

(Lisbon, December, 2, 1996)
Mr. Chairman
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are convinced that Europe will enter the XXI century as a peaceful continent only if the system of its security meets the following criteria.
Firstly, it should be able to withstand effectively both old and new threats to security. In the first place I mean such threats as regional conflicts, terrorism, organized crime, etc.
Secondly, the system of European security should be indivisible and ensure a just account of interests of all states of the continent. All European countries should have equal rights in making decisions concerning the future of the continent not only de jure but also de facto.
Thirdly, we have to choose a security model which would unite nations, and not create a threat of new division of the continent.
We believe that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could become a basis of a system which would meet the above criteria.
Within the framework of OSCE the already existing institutions including NATO could find an effective application. We are realistic in our assessment of the potential of this structure in the field of peacekeeping. We are ready to further cooperate with NATO in the field of security within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program.
We deem it shortsighted to make NATO a cornerstone of the European security system.
The model of the European security, with NATO at its core, intrinsically, will not be able to attend equally to the interests of all European states.
Whatever we say now the countries of the European continent would be split into two uneven and unequal groups: NATO member states and states which do not belong to this alliance.
The Cold War is over. The Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Soviet Union which were opposing NATO are no longer in existence. There is not a single state in the East of the continent which could bear threat of aggression.
In these circumstances everything should be done to avoid steps which could cause a new division of Europe and sow the seeds of mutual mistrust and suspiciousness.
Perhaps we raise our voice against this louder than others, because it is Belarus who would suffer most as a result of a new split of Europe. In this case the dividing line will run along the border of Belarus. That is why the NATO plans of fast eastward expansion cause our grave concern.
It is important, however, that we should keep in mind that in this case there will be no winners. A security system based on the hegemony of any group of states cannot be firm and last long.
In this light the all-Europe security system with the OSCE as its backbone seems to us the most optimal. We believe that already now OSCE could take the role of a coordinator of European and transatlantic institutions in securing peace and stability in the European continent.
My newly-born country by word and deed made and is making concrete and very significant steps that promote security on the continent.
In accordance with the CFE Treaty Belarus has dismantled more tanks, combat vehicles and other military equipment than Britain, France and the USA taken together. I would like to underline that this was the equipment inherited from the "cold war" period.
Belarus was the first to voluntarily and unconditionally renounce, the opportunity to come into possession of the huge nuclear stockpile located in its territory.
We have come up with an initiative to create a nuclear-free area on the continent and have made concrete steps to implement this idea: after having fulfilled ahead of time its obligations under the protocol signed here in Lisbon in May 1992 Belarus has quite recently completed the withdrawal from its territory of the last missile!
But tile attitude taken in this issue by many of our foreign partners can hardly be called adequate.
On the one hand, they welcome the withdrawal of nuclear missiles from Belarus, on the other hand, they do not show their willingness to take the obligation not to deploy nuclear weapons in their territory.
All this taken into account, I sometimes feel that we managed to get rid of the "cold war" stereotypes earlier than many others. I call on you to take an impartial look at the problem and support the idea of creation of a nuclear-free area.
Mr. Chairman,
Besides the military and political dimension security has many other not less important aspects. Among them I would name first of all the ecological and economic aspects.
The price of ecological security is well known to our people: Belarus suffered more than others from the Chernobyl disaster. Such calamity knows no state borders. It was not us who built the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the latter is not located on the Belarussian territory, but the bulk of the fallout is on our land.
I believe you would agree that the problem of ecological security requires by far more attention on the part of the OSCE.
Of special relevance today is economic security. Belarus, as other economies in transition, is going through hard times. Belarus is building a socially oriented market economy and is interested in broad understanding from IMF and other institutions. At the same time one cannot underestimate the problem of the social cost of reforms. I am convinced that economic reforms should not lead to social outburst that could rum all hopes for a better future.
As to the statements made here regarding the internal political situation in Belarus I would like to say the following.
The referendum recently held in Belarus was conducted in full conformity with the acting Constitution and legislation of the Republic. The attempts to present the referendum results as illegitimate have no grounds whatsoever. I believe nobody is entitled to consider illegitimate the democratic expression of the will by the whole people. More than 70 per cent of the Belarus' citizens who took part in the voting endorsed the amendments to the Constitution of 1994 as proposed by the President.
Distinguished colleagues, it is with full responsibility that I underscore: we do not have any political crisis, there is not even a hint of the division in the society, the existence of which was so insistently claimed by our internal opposition. On the contrary, after the referendum the society found tranquillity and stability. As you see our problems are being resolved by exclusively peaceful political means. And we will follow this way in the time to come.
As regards accusations of authoritarianism I will leave them without any comments as totally artificial.
We intend to contribute in every possible way to strengthening the cooperation with OSCE and other European structures on all the issues , including the problems of democratization and reforming of our society, implementation of the norms and rules of OSCE in the field of human measurement.
It goes without saying that the attempts of pressure or interference into our internal affairs and the attempts to politically isolate the Republic would be counterproductive. We expect from OSCE an appropriate attitude and implementation of the existing rules and procedures of the relationship with the Member States.
Our country is one of the few post-Soviet states where there are no border disputes with our neighbours, no ethnic or religious conflicts, no language discrimination etc. You can be certain that Belarussian people who lives in the geographical centre of Europe will unswervingly follow the road of democratic development.
Belarus will continue to be your reliable partner in resolving fairly all the problems on the way to European security.
Thank you.

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