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Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
March 1, 2000

Belarus: Deepening Impasse on Political Dialogue

The United States notes recent statements by the authorities in Belarus regarding the resumption of dialogue with the democratic opposition. We hope to see a genuine dialogue process that will resolve the constitutional and political crisis in Belarus and end its isolation from the democratic mainstream in East-Central Europe. To ensure that result, we call on the government to create the conditions for a fruitful dialogue, including an end to harassment of opposition figures, current efforts against unregistered non-governmental organizations and attempts to close independent media in the country. We also note the importance of a prominent role for the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group and for the democratic opposition in the dialogue process, in keeping with Belarus' OSCE commitments. Failure to take such steps will lead to a sham dialogue, illegitimate parliamentary elections, and further polarize Belarusian society and deepen the country's isolation from democratic Europe.

We will continue to follow developments in Belarus with great concern. Through Ambassador Speckhard and the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, we will continue to work with the OSCE AMG, the democratic movement and the Belarusian authorities to advance democracy, respect for human rights, and reform in that country.

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