Sikorski: Sanctions will be expanded unless the political prisoners are released

The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs has made the statement at the press conference in Berlin on March 21, 2012.

«We hope that the political prisoners will be released. Otherwise the European Union will have to impose next sanctions,» the Polish Press Agency (PAP) quotes the Head of the MFA.

On March 21, 2012 Berlin hosted a tripartite meeting of the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and Russia. Among other things, the ministers will discuss EU-Russia relations and international issues.

Meanwhile, on March 21, 2012 Andrey Savinykh, spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the government’s news agency BelTA that the EU should stop using pressure against Belarus if it wants «reconcile existing differences.» According to him, both Belarus and the EU will benefit from a «mutually acceptable settlement.»

«Firstly, The EU should put an end to reinforcing its sanctions,» the spokesman stressed. «The point at issue is not about whether the sanctions are efficient. What is really important is that practice rules out the possibility of a sensible and reasonable rapprochement.»

On February 27, 2012 EU Foreign Affairs ministers agreed an assets freeze and visa ban against 19 magistrates and two highly placed police officers who are suspected of stifling Belarus’ political opposition. These decisions came in addition to already existing measures: more than 200 individuals are already subject to a travel ban and a freeze of their assets within the EU.

In response, Head of the EU delegation to Belarus Majra Mora and Leszek Szerepka, the Polish Ambassador to Belarus, were invited to the Belarusian MFA. In the statement published on the MFA’s web site, Press-Secretary Andrey Savinykh attacked the policy of sanctions and declares: «Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Belarus and Ambassador of Poland to Belarus have also received the recommendations to return to their capitals for consultations and to convey to their leadership a firm position of the Belarusian Side on inadmissibility of pressure and sanctions.»

In ther turn, EU member countries’ ambassadors in Minsk were withdrawn in solidarity. The decision was made at a meeting of EU ambassadors, where they also decided that countries where Belarus had an ambassador would call these in to issue a formal protest.

At the summit in Brussels on March 2, 2012 the leaders of the European Union countries called on the EU Council to take further measures towards Belarus, Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said.

On March 23, 2012 the Council of the European Union will bring the question on introducing sanctions to a decision.


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