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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on the case of visa for Belarusian President Lukashenko

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided not to issue entry visa to Belarusian President Lukashenko. The decision applies only to the person of President Lukashenko, the other members of the Belarusian delegation to the Prague Summit have been issued their visas.(15/11/2002)

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
on the case of visa for Belarusian President Lukashenko

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided not to issue entry visa to Belarusian President Lukashenko. The decision applies only to the person of President Lukashenko, the other members of the Belarusian delegation to the Prague Summit have been issued their visas. The Czech Republic is in the long run concerned about the situation in Belarus, a country under an authoritarian regime severely suppressing all manifestations of opposite views and massively violating human rights.

Like the other members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Czech Republic was alarmed when the last foreign participant in an OSCE monitoring mission was forced to leave Belarus last October 29, by which its work in the territory of Belarus was practically made impossible. The international community will no longer merely criticize this incident as another excess of the government in Minsk. An opinion crystallizing on the soil of the EU envisages the adoption of special measures against the Belarusian regime.

Belarus only recently changed its plans and announced it would not be represented at the Prague Summit by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, as at the past Summits of the Alliance, but by President Lukashenko himself. The members of the North Atlantic Alliance did not welcome this decision and a number of signals in this respect were sent to Belarus both by the Alliance and its individual members. The strongest of them was undoubtedly the signal from the Czech Government about not favouring the issue of the entry visa to President Lukashenko.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not want to take such important decision directly as the Czech side believed that Belarus would take the views of the Alliance into account and alone decrease the level of its representation at the Summit. Belarus, however, did not take such step and on the contrary resorted to unacceptable threats not only to the Czech Republic but also the whole of Europe, thus clearly documenting Lukashenko's political style.

The Czech Republic is interested in the participation and engagement of Belarus in the EAPC and for this reason regards the participation of the delegation of Belarus in the Prague meeting of the EAPC as practical. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this connection points out that the decision to issue visas to the delegation of Belarus reflects the interest not only of the Czech side in continued engagement of Belarus in EAPC activities. It is also an expression of recognition and respect by the Czech side for Belarusian public, for the people of this country, whose European orientation is well known to us and which we have always tried to support and will continue to support also within the framework of bilateral relations.

Independent and democratic Belarus is an important part of Europe in a number of important fields - security, energy, transport, illegal migration etc. - and the Czech side will do its best to make the citizens of Belarus understand the decision not to issue visa to President Lukashenko as an expression of our position on his person and not on Belarus and its people.

By its decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the same time expresses its long-lasting support for democratic groupings and forces in Belarus striving for a change of the situation in the country that would bring Belarus in line with the generally recognized European and international standards.

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