According to diplomatic sources, ambassadors of the EU member countries intend to come back to Minsk next week.
As Belgian news web site EUobserver reported earlier, EU ambassadors might return en bloc to Belarus shortly after the Easter break [Catholic – Belsat], unless president Aliaksandr Lukashenko does something drastic in the meantime.EU diplomats said the decision had been made behind closed doors in Brussels, the online newspaper notes.
Official representatives neither assert nor refute the fact. Maja Kocijancic, Press Secretary of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, said that she could not confirm the report. It is not known whether the European Union’s ambassadors will return en bloc to Belarus after the Easter break, she told the Belarus service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Meanwhile, some sources in a EU country’s Foreign Ministry confirmed news agency BelaPAN that the agreement on the ambassadors’ returning to Belarus does exist. According to them, the decision was made at the level of the ambassadors in Brussels. It did not take much time what speaks for the lack of controversy on the subject, one of the sources pointed out. In addition, there will be more information channels and opportunities for negotiations with both state officials and oppositionists, the interviewee stressed.
When asked for new information on the ambassadors’ returning Andrey Savinykh, Press Secretary of the Belarusian MFA, said that their official position sounded before has not changed yet.
According to the statement by Andrey Savinykh on the decision of the EU Council taken on March 23, 2012 Belarusian side did not see any necessity in the presence on the territory of Belarus of the recalled ambassadors of the states that have voted in favor of this decision. Later Savinykh specified that EU ambassadors who left Belarus are not persons non grata but their return would be premature.
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.
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 their 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.