Wednesday

12th May 2021

Belarus expels Swedish ambassador after teddy bear fiasco

  • Lukashenko fired two generals over the teddy bear incident (Photo: studiototal.se)

Belarus has kicked out Sweden's ambassador to Minsk in a rerun of events six months ago.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt tweeted on Friday (3 August) that the diplomat, Stefan Eriksson, was expelled "for being too supportive of human rights." He added: "Outrageous. Shows nature of regime."

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

The Swedish foreign ministry said it will give marching orders to Belarus' envoy to Stockholm and some of his colleagues in return.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the Political and Security Committee, a group of high-level EU diplomats, will at its next meeting in Brussels also discuss "appropriate EU measures."

A Belarusian foreign ministry spokesman, Andrei Savinykh, told the Belta news agency that Eriksson was "destroying" Belarusian-Swedish relations.

"If the Swedish side is eager to aggravate the situation, we will be forced to respond adequately," he added.

The dispute comes after a Swedish advertising agency, Studio Total, in July air-dropped teddy bears in Belarus with little parachutes and placards calling for free speech.

President Alexander Lukashanko fired two security chiefs in response and said future intruders will be shot down.

Belarus in February expelled the EU and the Polish ambassadors to Minsk because the EU imposed sanctions on one of his oligarch friends.

The EU at the time pulled out all its Belarus ambassadors in solidarity. They trickled back a few weeks later to resume work.

Tit-for-tat expulsions also took place in 1998 when Lukashenko wanted to evict EU and US diplomats from a leafy residential compound so he could live there himself.

His methods included cutting off water and welding shut the gate of the US envoy's residence.

The ambassadors returned in 1999, after Belarus pledged to respect international law on diplomats' rights.

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