Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
June 20, 2000
SENATORS URGE ALBRIGHT MEETING WITH
BELARUS OPPOSITION PARTY LEADERS
Solidarity Vital to Courageous Democratic Opposition
(Washington) - Two leading United States Senators have written to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, asking her to meet with Anatol Lebedka, head of Belarus’ United Civic Party and other opposition leaders, as a sign of support for those seeking to overcome the legacy of communism and authoritarianism.
Albright is scheduled to participate in the June 25 - 27, 2000 Community of Democracies meeting in Warsaw, Poland where Solidarity figures faced similar political struggles in the early 1980s.
“Given the deterioration of human rights in Belarus and in particular repressive measures against the opposition, support for democratic forces in Belarus is more pressing than ever,” the Senators wrote.
In a letter last week to the Secretary of State, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) Co-Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Baltic Caucus Co-Chair Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) urged Albright to meet with Lebedka and his colleagues during the upcoming Community of Democracies meeting in Warsaw, Poland.
“The Belarus opposition deserves both our moral and material support as they seek to overcome the legacy of communism and authoritarianism and build a democratic society firmly rooted in the rule of law,” the letter reads. “Your meeting with these courageous individuals would send a clear signal of U.S. commitment to the beleaguered democratic forces in Belarus.”
The Community of Democracies meeting, a joint effort of the Governments of Poland, the Czech Republic, Chile, the Republic of Korea, India, Mali and the United States, will bring together representatives of many countries to discuss ways of expanding international cooperation to strengthen democratic governance.
Campbell and Durbin believe that a meeting between Albright and opposition leaders, including Lebedka, would be “particularly timely given ominous threats recently issued by Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenka against the democratic opposition.”
“We remain very concerned about the personal safety of Mr. Lebedka and other Belarusian opposition leaders,” the letter reads. “Belarus, under Lukashenka, has abandoned the democratic path and slipped toward dictatorship.”
Media Contact: Ben Anderson
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Citizenship and Political Rights