15.08.2012 / 10:24

EU to Further Limit Contacts with Belarus, Lithuanian FM Says

The EU member states summons Belarusian ambassadors as a common preconcerted response to Swedish embassy expulsion.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has notified Belarusian Ambassador Uladzimir Drazhyn that the European Union will further limit its contacts with Belarus in response to the expulsion of Swedish Ambassador Stefan Eriksson and all other Swedish diplomats from Minsk, BelaPAN informs.

Mr. Drazhyn was invited to the Lithuanian foreign ministry on Tuesday and told that the EU member states had agreed on a common response to the Belarusian government's decision to expel the Swedish embassy staff, according to the ministry's press office.

The ambassador was warned that the decision would impact not only bilateral relations between Belarus and Sweden but the BelarusEU relations in general.

It will be taken into account while Brussels is reviewing its policy toward Minsk and so will domestic factors such as the fate of political prisoners, the parliamentary elections campaign and the state of civil society in Belarus, the press office said.

Representatives of the ministry stressed that Lithuania and the EU in general were interested to maintain proper diplomatic relations with Belarus and develop cooperation with it within the framework of the EU's Eastern Partnership program. However, everything depends on Belarus, the press office said.

The Belarusian foreign ministry announced on August 3 that the Belarusian authorities had denied an accreditation extension to Ambassador Stefan Eriksson.

He has worked in Belarus for about seven years, which is a long period, said the ministry's spokesman, Andrey Savinykh. However, all his activities were aimed at destroying BelarusianSwedish relations, not at strengthening them.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt dismissed all accusations against the Swedish diplomat and warned that the incoming Belarusian ambassador was not welcome in Stockholm, and that the residence permits of two of its representatives would be withdrawn.

On August 8, the Belarusian foreign ministry announced that Belarus had recalled its entire embassy staff from Stockholm and told Sweden to withdraw all its diplomats from Minsk before August 30.

As it was reported previously, Belarusian ambassador to Germany was summoned by the German FM. Guido Westerwelle, the Foreign Minister of Germany, noticed that Europe will not allow Lukashenkas government to block contacts.

nn.by