Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle spoke on the phone today (4 January) to Audronius Azubalis, Lithuanian Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chair, about the decision by the Belarusian leadership to close the OSCE Office in Minsk.
The Ministers talked about how the work of the OSCE in Belarus can be continued and how the organization can bring its influence to bear. Both agreed that civil society in particular has to be strengthened. It was important, among other things, that the work of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and of the OSCE/ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) be carried on in Belarus.
The two Ministers stressed that events surrounding the elections in Belarus posed a challenge to the EU as a whole. They stated that a clear common EU response would have to be found.
There are ongoing consultations on the situation in Belarus within the EU. For instance, the Political and Security Committee will meet this Friday to discuss this issue.