Resolution critical of Minsk omitted from OSCE PA session’s final declaration

A resolution criticizing Belarus’ human rights record was not included in the final declaration adopted on the final day of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 26th Annual Session in Minsk on July 9.

Photo by Syarhey Balay

Sponsored by Swedish MP Christian Holm Barenfeld, the resolution, which also criticized the situation in Azerbaijan and Russia, was adopted at Saturday’s meeting of the Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions.

Speaking ahead of the vote on the declaration on Sunday, Valery Varanetski, a member of Belarus’ House of Representatives, described it as constructive and positive but said that the Belarusian delegation cannot back the resolution, which he described as confrontational.

A representative of the Russian delegation said that it opposed the resolution as well as another resolution, which called for the “restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Forty-three delegates voted for including the resolution in the final declaration and as many voted against while 29 abstained.

As OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen announced that the resolution would not be included in the final declaration because it had failed to gain a majority of the votes, the Belarusian delegation started applauding and Syarhey Haydukevich, a member of Belarus’ Council of the Republic, shouted “Thank you!”

Mr. Holm Barenfeld expressed regret that the resolution had been omitted from the final declaration but said that discussions on the document had been useful.
The Swedish lawmaker stressed that the resolution had not been included in the declaration as a result of a democratic vote. According to him, the peoples of Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia should enjoy as much freedom of voting in elections as the countries’ delegations did at the Assembly’s session. If there had been free and fair elections in the countries, there would have been no such resolution, he stressed.

Mr. Holm Barenfeld warned that he would continue following the situation in Belarus and working toward greater human rights respect in the country.