Thursday

15th Nov 2018

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

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

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. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  2. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  3. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published
  4. Greece to investigate former PM's bank accounts
  5. EU threatens to retaliate if US introduces auto tariffs
  6. Frontex: Spain now main destination for migrants
  7. German AfD funding scandal widens
  8. UK cabinet agrees Brexit deal after marathon session

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  2. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  3. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  4. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  5. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  6. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  7. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  8. EU to review animal welfare strategy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us