OSCE PA Special Representative on Eastern Europe discusses situation in Belarus with Head of Belarusian Delegation

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COPENHAGEN, 15 February 2021 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Eastern Europe Daniela De Ridder (Germany) met today with Andrei Savinykh, Head of the Belarusian Delegation to the OSCE PA, for a wide-ranging discussion on the challenges facing Belarus and the way forward for the country.

In the online discussion, which was also joined by OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella, the sides exchanged views on the situation in Belarus as well as a possible role for the Parliamentary Assembly in facilitating dialogue. De Ridder explained that as the newly appointed Special Representative on Eastern Europe, Belarus is at the top of her agenda and asked Savinykh to offer his views on what is happening in Minsk and the rest of the country.

Savinykh provided an overview of the situation with relevant context since independence in 1991, noting that Belarus’s strong presidency was a result of the social and economic difficulties of the 1990s. Economic development has brought social changes, he said, creating the need for the transformation of the political system. This is the backdrop for the unrest that Belarus has experienced since the disputed election of 9 August, he said.

Savinykh agreed that there is an imperative to reform the political process as well as the electoral system, but also a need to guard against foreign interference and instability. There is a danger of allowing a street democracy to rule, he said, and therefore what is needed is development of the political system and formalized dialogue.

De Ridder emphasized the value of including all stakeholders in political dialogue, accepting and reflecting on criticism, and understanding the positions of all factions in order to improve the political process. She stressed that if there are grave violations of human rights, it becomes an international concern and noted that the Parliamentary Assembly takes seriously the process that Belarus has started and wants to help advance dialogue between all stakeholders.

Both De Ridder and Savinykh agreed on the importance of negotiation and dialogue in order to come to agreement, and pledged to continue discussing these issues in future talks.

Secretary General Montella highlighted the work of the OSCE PA to create conditions for dialogue and underlined the importance of the international community acting with integrity and an unbiased posture in its diplomatic efforts. We need to work within the perimeters of the legal framework and shared values, he emphasized, noting that it is in everyone’s interest to build trust and engage in open dialogue.

On 5 February, De Ridder met with former Belarusian presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for discussions on how the international community can best support democratic processes in the country. The PA also held an online forum with OSCE PA Bureau members, Savinykh and Tsikhanouskaya last September.



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