Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), operating in Minsk since 1998, has stopped its work. The head of mission, Ambassador Benedikt Haller, plans to leave the country on Thursday, March 31. The decision to close the office was adopted by the country's authorities in late 2010, despite the calls of the organization's supervision.
As Telegraf previously reported, December 31, the Permanent Representative of Belarus to international organizations in Vienna Alexander Sychev informed members of the OSCE Permanent Council that the Belarusian authorities hadn’t extended the mandate of the OSCE office in Minsk. The Belarusian authorities based their decision on «the lack of objective justification for the conservation of the OSCE mission in Belarus.»
Most European countries, as well as the United States, condemned the decision of the official Minsk. Thus, EU High Representative Katherine Ashton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a joint statement, expressing regret about this. However, calls of the Western leaders have not changed the decision of Belarus. Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said on February 17 that the decision to close the OSCE Office was final. Despite this, according to the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Belarus counts on further cooperation with this organization.
Based on materials of BelaPAN