Poland, France, Germany appeal for free and fair elections in Belarus

The foreign ministers of the so-called Weimar Triangle of Poland, France and Germany issued a joint statement on Friday in which they called on the Belarus authorities to conduct this Sunday's presidential elections in a free and fair manner.

The three countries' foreign ministers also called for those detained for political reasons to be freed and appealed for a halt to the use of force.

The statement said the three foreign ministers were "observing with concern developments in Belarus." They said that on the eve of elections they stood for the right of Belarusians to make use of fundamental freedoms including the right to vote. The statement also said the three FMs "support the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus."

Ministers Jacek Czaputowicz (Poland), Heiko Maas (Germany) and Jean-Yves le Drian (France) expressed concern at the fact the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe did not have the possibility to observe the election process.

The statement called on the Belarus authorities to allow election monitoring by independent local observers and noted reports of electoral irregularities during pre-election voting.

The statement described Belarus as an important neighbour of the European Union and an active member of the Eastern Partnership and expressed hope that "strong ties" could be built between Belarus and its citizens and the EU, "based on respect of common democratic values, including civil freedoms and the rule of law."

Presidential elections are scheduled for Sunday August 9, with nine candidates standing, including the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko.