Belarus accuses OSCE of double standards
Last week, a group of 14 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) made a request to send a special international mission to Belarus to investigate human rights in the country. Europe’s main security and rights watchdog has voiced its deep concern over the human rights situation in the country in connection with Minsk’s “repression” against the opposition since the December presidential elections which secured Aleksandr Lukashenko a fourth term in office. In response, Minsk accused Western countries of pursuing a policy of “coercion” towards Belarus, “trying to resort to any resources available” and now seeking to get the OSCE involved. According to the republic’s foreign ministry statement, the states manipulated procedural gaps in the OSCE documents and proposed sending a fact-finding mission to Belarus without any grounds. “Belarus fully performs its OSCE commitments in a bona-fide manner. We systematically develop our cooperation with the Organization in all areas; take part in the negotiation processes and consultations. Today we have received an express confirmation that the current OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office and western countries are not interested in an objective and equal dialogue,” the statement reads on the ministry’s official website. Aleksandr Sychyov, the Belarusian permanent envoy to the OSCE, speaking at the body’s Council in Vienna echoed the stance earlier voiced by the Foreign Ministry and accused the Western countries of using “double standards” instead of “dialogue and practical cooperation”. The western states based their request on the OSCE tool known as the Moscow Mechanism. The mechanism, agreed by all OSCE states, including Belarus, provides for a possibility for one or several organization’s members to call another member to account for human rights violations and to consider reports by independent experts on the violations they revealed. So far, this procedure has been used six timesSychyov stressed that Minsk does not accept the interpretation of the situation in Belarus suggested by the states who initiated the mission. Their attempt to present Belarus as a “special case” is clearly “biased”.“There is no threat to the fulfillment of OSCE obligations in Belarus. Moreover, there is no “particularly serious” [threat],” he said. Sychyov assured the European security watchdog that the situation in the republic is stable, “there are no inter-ethnic or inter-confessional conflicts”. The official noted that some colleagues state that the true reason behind the idea to launch the “Moscow Mechanism” was Minsk’s earlier decision to close the OSCE mission in Belarus. Sychyov stressed that “a suspension of the OSCE mission mandate is the sovereign right of any OSCE member-state”. He recalled that missions were closed in countries other than Belarus, but this has never led to employing such instruments as the Moscow Mechanism. The diplomat observed that in the past years there were several crisis situations claiming many human lives both on the OSCE territory and in the countries with no missions from the organization present. “But we have not heard of any attempts to use relevant mechanisms,” he noted, as sited by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s webpage. "A number of really critical situations claiming numerous human lives and requiring the most serious response have emerged in the OSCE area in the past years, including countries where OSCE missions are not present," Sychyov said.