Monday

16th May 2022

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."

UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

British foreign secretary Liz Truss said the UK has "no choice but to act" on the Northern Ireland protocol governing post-Brexit trade during a call with EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič — who warned unilateral action was "simply not acceptable".

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

Opinion

Is EU 'Horizon' science funding going towards Pegasus spyware?

MEPs have raised questions about the involvement of the EU — through its funding — in the development of the Israeli NSO Pegasus software, directly or indirectly, which has been used to target activists and journalists in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. German ruling party in regional election blow
  2. EU expanding arms-for-Ukraine programme
  3. Reports: EU drafts plans for Russia energy payments
  4. Pro-Russian hackers targeted Eurovision
  5. EU to donate extra €400m for Africa vaccines rollout
  6. Spain plans five-days 'menstrual leave' and to ease abortion rules
  7. MEPs reject proposal for stricter 2030 target on cars and vans
  8. Study: EU spent €341m on AI border technology

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  3. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  4. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersHuge support for Ukraine
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBWorkers want EC to limit subcontracting chains in construction

Latest News

  1. Sweden to join Finland in applying for Nato
  2. Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK
  3. Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?
  4. EU reaches deal on flagship cybersecurity law
  5. EU to help Ukraine export grain — amid food shortages fears
  6. Revealed: Big Oil shaped EU's gas-cutting strategy
  7. EU: Ukrainians hesitating to register for protection
  8. UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us