Belarus is committed to the OSCE basic principles and the prejudice surrounding the country is undgrounded. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met at the meeting with OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen in Minsk on 16 March.
“Your visit is important to us,” the head of state was quoted by his press service. “We have many issues to discuss together. We want to demonstrate that Belarus is committed to the OSCE basic principles.”
Lukashenko expressed willingness to unveil long-standing prejudice against Belarus.
“We will also show that Belarus is a European country. Human rights, the rule of law and democracy are as important here as in other European states, including in the EU,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
He assured that the decision to host the annual session of the OSCE PA in Belarus in July was the right one because the situation in the country is “relatively calm considering the situation in the world”. Alexander Lukashenko promised that it will be the same before, during and after the event.
In her turn, Christine Muttonen welcomed the active engagement of Belarus in the OSCE PA. She expressed gratitude for the intensive efforts in preparation for the Assembly’s 26th Annual Session that will take place in summer.
The official also discussed with the Belarusian leadership the issue of the ongoing demonstrations across the country, including the alleged harassment of journalists and the arrests of opposition leaders.
“Muttonen… expressed appreciation for the reassurances that law enforcement authorities will show restraint and respect the rule of law, and that the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and speech will be ensured,” the message of the OSCE’s press service reads.
Mass protests against the tax decree have been taking place in Belarus for a month. Following protest actions on 15 March in Minsk, Grodno and Mogilev law enforcement authorities started detentions with the use of force.
According to human rights activists, over 50 people were detained in the capital alone. Trials were held on 16 March: people were punished with fines, as well as arrests from 12 to 15 days.