COPENHAGEN, 15 October 1998 - The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has established an ad hoc Committee on Belarus. Mrs. Helle Degn, MP (Denmark), President of the Assembly, has appointed Mr. Adrian Severin, Member of the Romanian Parliament and former Foreign Minister, to chair the Committee. Other members are Ms. Nino Burdjanadze, MP (Georgia), Mr. Kimmo Kiljunen, MP (Finland), Mr. Igor Ostash, MP (Ukraine), and Mr. Gert Weisskirchen, MP (Germany).
The Committee will act as a working group to support the work of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group to Belarus. It will assist in the development of democracy in Belarus and help build dialogue and facilitate national reconciliation. The Committee will maintain contact with the authorities and independent political organizations in the country.
In an agreement reached - in 1997 - with the Government of Belarus, the OSCE opened an Advisory and Monitoring Group in Minsk in February 1998. The Parliamentary Assembly now attempts - by creating a new Committee on Belarus - to support and intensify the OSCE's work in helping Belarus fulfill and ultimately comply with, its OSCE commitments.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly does not recognize the present Belarus National Assembly. It maintains contacts with the 1995-elected parliament, The 13th Supreme Soviet, which was elected through direct elections. Shortly thereafter it became the subject of intense criticism from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who later held a referendum on amending the constitution. Although the Constitutional Court of Belarus ruled that the results of the referendum could be only "consultative," President Lukashenko held the referendum and claimed a mandate to create a second legislature in the republic. The OSCE finds this act illegal and an act which clearly violates the country's OSCE commitments for democracy.
For further information you may contact Mr. Jan R. M. Jooren, Counselor for Press and Public Affairs of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
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