2008 02/10

11111

Aliaksei Lapitski

IN THE LAST ANSWER TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS FROM ZHODZINA THE HEAD OF THE CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION LIDZIYA YARMOSHYNA COSCIENTLY AVOIDS SPEAKING OF EVIDENT VIOLATIONS OF THE ELECTION CODE OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS. THERE’S NO USE MENTIONING THE INTERNATIONAL ELECTORAL STANDARDS HERE… SUCH STANDARDS DON’T EXIST FOR BELARUS. THERE ARE SOME IDEOLOGICAL HORRORS AND INSINUATIONS ABOUT THEM, BUT THERE IS NO REAL UNDERSTANDING AND NO POLITICAL WILL FOR THEIR IMPLEMENTATION. HOWEVER, IT’S HIGH TIME THAT ALL INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKINGS, INCLUDING THE UNDERTAKINGS IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE, BE IMPLEMENTED.

Despite this, the main organ that is responsible for control of respect to the law during all stages of the election campaign in Belarus (the ‘elections’ to the parliament of the 4th convocation) stubbornly shows its functional incapacity and one-sided pro-governmental commitment.

In its answer the Central Election Commission again expressed the official position of the country’s authorities concerning the universally recognized legal norms that are set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Vienna Convention On the Law of Treaties that are obligatory for all member countries including Belarus.

The fact that the CEC refuses to notice any evident violations of the national election legislation (for instance, in the field of election procedures) witnesses that even the ultimately restrictive explanations of the electoral rights and the rules that ensue from them are neither controlled, nor observed during elections.

As a result, the elections in Belarus are quite far from the universally recognized international election standards. However, these standards must be included in the national legislation, as otherwise it will be impossible for Belarus to implement its international undertakings.

Knowing about this, the country’s authorities and the international experts did not say a word to their ‘beloved Belarusian people’ in their final press-conferences after the elections*.

Instead, they speculated about ‘optional recommendations’ of the OSCE, though they know it well-enough (because it seems to be their professional subject and specialization after all…) that in the democratic international community non-implementation of such recommendations leads to exclusion from the sphere of appropriate mutual relations or even leads to the usage of international economical sanctions (as an ultimate measure).

In fact, the international legislation does not use other formulations in relation to peoples or countries. It reflects the diplomacy of the language of such international institutions as OSCE in the field of the electoral legislation and human rights, especially when it concerns the preliminary conclusions that are made right after the end of an election campaign.

That’s why it becomes clear who the surprisingly ‘happy’ reports of the Belarusian TV about the COMPLETE correspondence of the ‘elections’ to the NATIONAL LEGISLATION (which is not a proved fact) are meant for. It means that the NATIONAL LEGISLATION is contrasted to the INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION AND THE APPROPRIATE UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED LEGAL NORMS possessing the imperative priority in the national legislative systems!

Who is to blame for it but the country’s government? The implementation of the obligations that have been taken by the country on free will, not imposed by ‘some terrible figure from the outside world’ – is an obligatory condition for normalization of the dialogue between Belarus and the West, the key to the mutually beneficial large-scale cooperation programs. This is what still withholds the relations and processes that could be priceless for welfare and development of the country…

In fact, we need only the political will of the Belarusian authorities for practical implementation of the international undertakings (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Vienna Convention On The Law of Treaties…) in the field of human rights and liberties in order to add to the country’s rating the necessary scores that would allow it to be treated as more predictable and reliable PARTNER (who plays according to the universally recognized and clear rules).

Being a reliable and civilized partner is a golden reserve for a country’s image. Just confidence in a state is enough to solve the seemingly undecidable problems, create a durable circle of peace and cooperation, stableness and mutual understanding and guarantee the real safety and wellbeing of the whole people.

The predictability and democracy of Belarus can become a real ‘green card’ in interaction with all institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe and developed countries of the word and increase the attractiveness of the country for large-scale programs of international cooperation.

That’s why the latest propagandist statements that the elections were held ‘as they should be held’, according to the demands of our OWN national legislation… (who cares that they did not correspond to some international standards and cannot be considered free, democratic and transparent) – such statements are equal to the official public recognition by the head of the state of the fact that the state (including the government, the law machinery and other institutions…) does not implement the international undertakings within the limits of the International Covenant and the European Convention…) and is not going to implement the international legal standards in the national legislation, the court practice, civil and political life…

If the Belarusian government really intended to improve the relations with the West and Europe, such statements would look like a diplomatic discomfiture – a failure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to protect the ‘ideologists’ (and the main of them) from showing the real face of the present-day Belarusian authoritarianism – illiterate and neglected.

It was quite sad to see the top officials happily report that the elections in Belarus were held in complete conformity with the national legislation, but keep silent about the most important – that these ‘elections’ weren’t nonetheless recognized by the appropriate international democratic institutions including the OSCE, whose mission closely watched the election campaign.

The country’s government allowed public statements that included elements of aggressive rhetoric aimed at provoking a negative attitude to the opposition activists and the foreigners who allegedly try to impose on Belarus some ‘alien’ standards, which don’t suit for Belarus (because the country has its own, ‘correct’ laws). Doubtlessly, such rhetoric figures are a variation of helpless, illiterate and bankrupt ideology and can convince only uneducated listeners.

ABIDANCE BY THE UNDERTAKINGS THAT DEMAND FROM BELARUS A STRICT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED LEGAL NORMS (BOTH IN LEGISLATION AND IN PRACTICE) – IS A NORMAL FORM OF BEHAVIOR FOR ANY MEMBER COUNTRY (INCLUDING THE MOST DEMOCRATIC AND WESTERN COUNTRIES). The refusal to implement the international undertakings is equal to self-humiliation and self-isolation of a country.

That’s why all procedures (including the electoral ones) must correspond to the international standards. This is the source from which there ensue the appropriate demands and the completely predictable, clear and defined position of the OSCE and its observers at the elections in Belarus.

If the elections don’t correspond to the international standards (irrespective of any references to their ‘legality’ according to the national rules or ‘notions’…) it means that such elections were held without implementation of the generally accepted legislative standards (which are not artificial, or imposed from the abroad, as it is presented to us by the Belarusian television) and therefore by no means can they be considered free and democratic, transparent and open and, accordingly, cannot be recognized as such by the international community and honestly working representatives of foreign and international observation missions (with the exception of evidently booked and biased mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States, consisting of post-Soviet countries).

That’s why extensive and individual legal education instead of ideological stubbornness, grounded on the stereotypes of hostility and confrontation (widespread in the ruling circles of the political elite) is a necessary precondition for perceiving that it is the very logic of interaction within the limits of the democratic field that dictates the rules of the game, not some ‘hostile force from the distant West’.

The space of neighborhood and equivalent interaction, in which every subject plays on some clear and universally recognized rules is a factor that attracts large capital and is doubtlessly an extremely important priority for contemporary Belarus.

A country that accepts these rules and implements them in practice automatically becomes a plenipotentiary subject of the European space and is recognized as such by other countries. It becomes a predictable and reliable partner. Other countries start counting with it and develop mutual contacts… The countries who are involved in the process of partnership become free from the complex of hostility and realize in practice the guarantees of the democratic rights and liberties for their citizens, thus proving their adequacy in the context of the whole-European, democratic and civilized process and the ability to implement the undertakings and extend the international cooperation…

It seems that only in such a way Belarus can come in sight of Europe as a plenipotentiary partner, whom one can trust and cooperate…

STABLE AND PRECISE RULES, CLEAR TO ALL SUBJECTS OF COOPERATION, THEIR SELF-RESPECT, INTERNATIONAL CULTURE OF RELATIONS THAT LEADS TO THE USE OF RECOMMENDATIONS ISTEAD OF FORCING — ALL THESE ARE TRAITS OF CIVILIZED INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP (!)

And it is better than any ‘true words’ if the officials, who govern the country in an authoritarian way. The international instruments serve as the best guarantee for any kind of mutually beneficial international relations.

The partners, who are not as good as their word, lose confidence and respect, which is equal to self-isolation and self-destruction. That’s why all countries try not to lose, but, on the contrary, to strengthen their international images and extend the space of peace and cooperation around them.

Thus, the self-respect of the country and its respect to its own citizens and implementation of international agreements in the field of civil and political rights serve as indicators of the real readiness of a state to full-fledged dialogue with international partners.

The electoral right – the right to free and democratic choice is the basic precondition for realization of the whole specter of civil and political rights and liberties… At the same time, there cannot be any free elections without real respect to democratic values: freedom of expression and convictions, freedom of peaceful assemblies and associations, etc. All this is necessary to sensibly and independently elect or be elected…

Evidently, the time has come to clearly see and understand that Europe (and the West) has been offering Belarus a helping hand for a long time already…

We need only to get rid of the chains of juridical and political nihilism, stereotypes of hostility and take off the handcuffs of political pressurization and harassment which limit and suppress the liberties that are necessary for the process of gradual development of interaction on the basis of equality, general understanding and respect to the universally recognized principles and norms of the law that became one of the main humanistic values for the civilized world long ago.

Aliaksei Lapitski,
Zhodzina

*The term ‘the Belarusian people’ is used as a virtual notion for a faceless and numb, amorphous mass, an inalienable virtual constituent of the present regime, on behalf of which the regime enjoys all its royal powers that have been allegedly given to it by this ‘people’.

Annex: the answer of the Central Election Commission of 28 September 2008

Aliaksei Lapitski

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