MINSK, 15 September 2000 - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) yesterday deployed a Technical Assessment Mission to Belarus. The small team of election experts will evaluate the conduct of next month's parliamentary elections in light of international election standards to which Belarus is committed.
"This is not an election observation mission", said Elisabeth Rasmusson, the Head of the assessment team. "The Belarussian authorities have not made enough progress in the preparation of democratic elections to justify an observation mission", she added referring to the decision of a conference of institutions involved in the observation of the Belarus elections held in Vienna on 30 August 2000. "However, the recent changes to the electoral framework do justify the deployment of a limited technical assessment mission."
Concentrating on the pre-election period, the technical assessment team will evaluate the election administration, the election campaign and the media situation. "We will also pay close attention to the political and human rights situation in the run-up to the elections, with particular focus on fundamental freedoms such as freedom of association and freedom of expression", said Elisabeth Rasmusson.
The Technical Assessment Mission will work in close co-operation with the OSCE Assistance and Monitoring Group in Belarus as well as with the Parliamentary Troika consisting of representatives of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, which will continue its consultative and monitoring functions during the parliamentary elections.
For further information, please contact Elisabeth Rasmusson, Head of the ODIHR Technical Assessment Mission at +375 17 270 39 94 107 in Minsk, or Andrew Bruce, ODIHR Election Adviser, or Jens-Hagen Eschenbächer, ODIHR Public Affairs Officer, at +48-22-520 06 00 in Warsaw.