Monday

21st Jun 2021

EU declines to retaliate against Belarus

EU countries have opted not to retaliate against Belarus in its diplomatic war on Sweden.

They will instead tell Belarus' own envoys to EU capitals that the Union is not happy. They might also add more Belarusian officials and businessmen to the EU sanctions list in autumn.

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

  • Lukashenko flew off the handle about the teddy bears on national TV on Thursday (Photo: Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador)

"There is going to be a very clear message to all Belarusian ambassadors around Europe in the next few days expressing full solidarity with the Swedes on this," Olof Skoog, the Swedish-origin chairman of the Political and Security Committee (PSC), a high-level EU diplomatic forum, said after meeting EU ambasadors in Brussels on Friday (10 August).

"We will be reviewing sanctions on Belarus later on in the next few months ... the situation with the Swedish embassy will have an effect on this," he added.

Skoog convened the PSC after Belarus earlier this week expelled all of Sweden's diplomats from Minsk. Sweden also threw out three Belarusian diplomats in the dispute.

Some EU diplomats had expected EU states to pull out all of their envoys from Minsk in solidarity with Sweden.

EU envoys already quit Minsk once this year in February when President Alexander Lukashenko expelled the EU and Polish ambassadors.

One diplomatic source told this website this would "limit contacts before the Belarus elections [in September], which isn't a good option," however.

He said Russia's effort to pull Belarus into the Eurasian Union, a quasi-EU club of former Soviet states, also makes it a bad time for the West to push away Lukashenko.

He noted that Lukashenko expelled the Swedes because they were among the most active EU countries in supporting dissidents.

He added that the teddy bear stunt, in which a Swedish advertising firm air-dropped bears with pro-free-speech slogans into Belarus last month, was "the last straw" for the irritable dictator.

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 MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines
  2. Next week is time for EU to finally lead on rule of law
  3. Austria blocking EU sanctions on Belarus banks
  4. Number of people forcibly displaced reaches historic high
  5. Three-quarters of EU citizens support vaccines, survey finds
  6. NGOs: Leaked EU biomass reform 'denial of science'
  7. US and Russia restart talks on cyber and nuclear war
  8. Europe needs to help sea rescues, say NGOs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us