The following is the text of a joint statement by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley and Darren Ennis, Spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative, on the closure of the OSCE Office in Belarus.
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton regret the decision by the Government of Belarus to terminate the mission of the OSCE's Office in Minsk. The mandate of the mission is not completed, as the OSCE's critical assessment of the presidential elections indicates. The elections and their aftermath -- particularly the continuing detention of presidential candidates and new detentions and raids targeting the media -- represent a step backwards in the development of democratic governance in Belarus. They call for the immediate release of all detained.
They also reiterate their call on the Belarusian authorities to fulfill their commitments to the OSCE by reforming the election process and providing greater respect for human rights. The OSCE has carried out valuable work in the country, in particular in promoting institution building and the rule of law and supporting the development of civil society. The United States and the European Union remain willing to assist Belarus in meeting its OSCE commitments in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms."