Belarusians should be able to choose freely, without fear of ending up in prison.
This was stated by the coordinator of OSCE short-term observers of the Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of the OSCE Matteo Mecacci.
He said that at their joint with the President of the OSCE PA Riccardo Migliori visit to Minsk (from 9 to 12 September), were held a series of meetings. On September 10, they met with the leaders of Belarusian parliament, the head of the CEC and the new Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei. On September 11, it is planned to meet with leaders of the opposition, civil society, and the Belarusian media. "We regret that we are unable to meet with those of them who are in prison, but they have not been forgotten," - said Mecacci.
Mission Coordinator said that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, reports BelaPAN.
Mecacci appreciated the fact that Belarus decided to cooperate with the OSCE and invited observers of the organization to these parliamentary elections.
"The essence of the mandate of the OSCE election observation is to verify that civil and political rights of citizens are respected, and this is one of our goals in Belarus. We want to make sure that democratic aspirations of Belarusian citizens can be expressed and, in the end, achieved "- said Mecacci.
According to him, it is still too early to draw any conclusions about the electoral process, but the OSCE observers already see that "there are some old problems in the process of registration of candidates." These problems, as the removal from the airtime of commercials of those the candidates who was calling for a boycott of the elections, will be reflected in the final report of the ODIHR OSCE observer mission, said the coordinator.
"We call on Belarus, like all other countries, to respect the freedom of the media, to allow people to speak freely and fully participate in the political life of the country. Part of the democratic process means that citizens are free to choose, whether they participate in the electoral process or not - said Mecacci. – In its best case, electoral institutions, government officials, political parties, media and civil society help to create a vibrant atmosphere, which includes, in particular, the freedom of movement, freedom of speech and assembly. As a result, people will want to participate and vote. When these democratic factors are absent, it is clear that some people do not wish to participate in such a process."
Matteo Mecacci could not answer the question about why its appointment of the mission coordinator of the OSCE short-term observers has received a negative assessment of Aliaxandar Lukashenka.
"As the head of the Committee for Human Rights of the OSCE, I always focus my attention on problems in this area in all OSCE member states, including Belarus, my native Italy or the U.S., for example. As an experienced observer of the elections and a person who follows the political live in Minsk, I think that many people know that I am well prepared to represent the OSCE in this observer mission," - said Mecacci.
He noted that during this visit he "was well received by the Belarusian authorities. "But it does not hurt me to remain impartial with respect to the elections – has noted Matteo Mecacci. - We hope to help Belarus to take the necessary steps to re-open its door to the European community. But first we must give an assessment to all elements of the electoral process."
"If we want these elections to meet the standards commitments of OSCE, citizens need to have all the information and be able to make a free choice among the many options," - concluded the mission coordinator of the OSCE short-term observers.