|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 17, 2001
Statement by the Press Secretary
Belarus: Elections Declared Undemocratic
President Bush believes that Belarus and its people can and should be a part of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. Unfortunately, severely flawed elections undermined chances that Belarus will have the opportunity to be a part of this vision for Europe in the near future. Not only did Aleksander Lukashenko, Europe's last dictator, steal the elections from the Belarusian people -- for the moment, he also stole their opportunity to return to a path towards democracy and free market economy. This was a sadly-missed opportunity and a sad moment for a brave people, who suffer under a climate of fear.
The United States stands behind the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) international election observation mission reports, outlining the fundamentally flawed 2001 presidential election process. According to the report, the Belarusian elections "failed to meet the OSCE commitments for democratic elections." Elections that are neither free nor fair cannot be internationally recognized.
The United States will work with our European allies through our foreign assistance programs and through international organizations to promote a more hopeful future based on respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We extend our friendship and support to the people of Belarus and express our hope they will soon join with the other free nations of an undivided, democratic Europe that is now emerging.
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