Wednesday

12th May 2021

EU ambassadors returning to Belarus

  • Minsk - EU diplomats say the ambassadors' return does not mean relations have improved (Photo: joquel)

EU ambassadors are to return en bloc to Belarus shortly after the Easter break, unless President Alexander Lukashenko does something drastic in the meantime.

EU diplomats say the decision was made behind closed doors in Brussels earlier this week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Inshallah. I do not have my instructions yet, but I expect to get them on Monday (2 April)," one EU country's Belarus ambassador told this website.

The EU envoys left in February in an act of solidarity with the EU and Polish ambassadors in Minsk, who were kicked out by Lukashenko.

Quite a bit has happened in Belarus-EU relations in the past four weeks.

The EU imposed more sanctions, including on a close friend of Lukashenko (but they let one of his key firms off the hook). Lukashenko executed two young men he called "terrorists" but everyone else calls innocent. And he made a list of some 150 dissidents who are not allowed to leave the country.

"This [the EU envoys' return] will happen if the Belarusians behave correctly. Of course, this raises the question of what is 'correctly'? But normally, it should happen," another EU diplomat said.

Lukashenko on Wednesday stopped three dissidents - Alyaksandr Atroshchankau, Syarhei Kalyakin and Anatol Lyabedzka - from going to a symposium with EU commissioner Stefan Fuele in Brussels.

One Belarusian activist said the Fuele event was in result "full" of pro-Lukashenko "lobbyists."

It was not enough to stall the EU ambassadors' return. But if something more serious happens - for instance, if hunger-striker Syarhey Kavalenka dies - the ambassadors could stay away.

The EU diplomat quoted above said the ambassadors' return should not be seen as a political reward: "We are ready to impose more sanctions if the situation does not improve."

A third EU diplomat said: "It helps us to work more effectively in Belarus, to have better quality reporting, if the ambassadors are there."

News in Brief

  1. Israeli rockets kill 20 people in Gaza retaliation
  2. No more EU expulsions likely over Russia bomb attacks
  3. EU ready to ignore Hungary veto on Hong Kong
  4. Borrell admits EU neglect of Western Balkans
  5. Macron accused of 'cowardice and deceit' in military letter
  6. EU citizens in UK applying for settled status face legal limbo
  7. Netherlands gives €2bn to offshore carbon storage project
  8. Germany will allow Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all ages

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Russia penetrated Merkel's 'inner circle', Khodorkovsky says
  2. First recovery euros could be paid out in July
  3. Commission wants help for Italy after weekend's migrant arrivals
  4. Mercosur trade deal will fuel 'poison pesticides' back into EU
  5. Can new Iran talks avoid mistakes of the original JCPOA?
  6. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  7. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  8. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us