Sumario: October 20, 2004: Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the parliamentary elections and the referendum of 17 October 2004 in Belarus (Brussels)
The European Union took note of the statement of preliminary findings and conclusions of the OSCE /ODIHR International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) on the parliamentary elections in Belarus of 17 October 2004. The IEOM has taken note of the referendum to the extent that it has had an impact on the parliamentary election process.
The EU notes with great concern that the parliamentary elections and the referendum on 17 October in Belarus failed to meet international standards for democratic elections. The EU is deeply disappointed that both during the election campaign and on the election day there were concrete signs of the Belarusian authorities' disregard for democratic rules on the electoral process.
The European Union fully shares the IEOM's conclusion that the parliamentary elections fell significantly short of basic OSCE commitments. The extent and serious character of irregularities noted by the observers raises serious doubts whether the results fully reflect the will of the Belarusian electorate. The same can be said for the referendum.
The European Union deeply regrets that the Belarusian authorities have not seized the opportunity to show their commitment to standards to which Belarus has freely subscribed when becoming an OSCE participating state. Furthermore, the EU regrets that Belarus has not shown its commitment to the standards that the EU expects from a country that has expressed its willingness to eventually become a member state of the Council of Europe.
The EU fears that the results of the flawed referendum and the parliamentary elections will increase the self-isolation of Belarus moving it further away from the democratic process. Furthermore the EU is also concerned about recent reports of violent actions by the Belarussian authorities against the opposition, in particular regarding the violent repression of a peaceful demonstration and the arrest of several opposition leaders.
The European Union wishes to underline again that it will continue to support all remaining democratic forces in Belarus and will seek ways to assist more effectively those people in the Belarusian civil society working for democratic change in Belarus.
The European Union still considers that there is a place for a democratic Belarus in the European family of nations. The European Union is willing to deepen its relationship with Belarus, including within the European Neighbourhood Policy, once the Belarusian authorities clearly demonstrate their willingness to respect democratic values and the rule of law.
The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia *, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.