Sunday

16th Dec 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us