A parliamentary seminar was held at the Belarusian National Library in Minsk on 15 March 2007. The seminar was a joint venture between the OSCE PA and the Belarusian National Assembly. It drew attention to a variety of views from within the European Union, including new EU Member States and neighboring countries, as well as a variety of views from within Belarus.

"The topic of our joint Seminar represents an issue of vital interest to Belarus and all its citizens. We hope this to be the first of a series of steps to be taken by Belarus to review its relationship to European standards and its own OSCE commitments" - commented Ms. Zapf, Chair of the OSCE PA Working Group on Belarus.

The Working Group and the Belarusian Delegation each invited participants to this event. Participants included parliamentarians, European Commission representatives in the region, civil society representatives and government officials from Belarus.

"It is regrettable that some civil society representatives, invited by the Working Group, chose not to participate today and share their point of view," commented the Chair of the Group.

While the Seminar was open to media, accredited to the Belarusian National Assembly, the Working Group was made aware of access difficulties for some media outlets.

The framework for this and other joint seminars of this kind was established in 2004, at the OSCE PA Annual Session where the Belarusian National Assembly's Delegation and the OSCE PA Working Group committed to a Joint Declaration. Members of the OSCE PA Working Group, Ms. Uta Zapf (Chair of the Group, Germany) and Mr. Kristian Pihl Lorentzen (MP Denmark) participated in the Seminar, organized in close consultation with the OSCE Office in Minsk.

The Working Group is looking forward to organizing the next event, within this framework, in the coming months in Minsk.

During this week's visit to Belarus, the OSCE PA Working Group Members also met with political party representatives, media and civil society representatives, and families of the prosecuted and the disappeared politicians.