Belarus authorities demand Lithuania’s embassy cut back staff in Minsk over ‘hostile steps’

On July 6, Lithuanian Charge d’Affaires in Belarus Asta Andrijauskiene was summoned to the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

„<…>the Lithuanian charge d’affaires in Belarus was informed about Belarus’ decision to reduce the diplomatic representation of Lithuania in our country to a minimum until Lithuania rescinds yesterday’s initiative and other unfriendly initiatives that incite confrontation in relations with Belarus,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the ministry.

According to the Belarusian diplomats, ‘a series of preposterous and explicitly hostile steps’ was continued when Lithuania granted an official diplomatic status to ‘ephemeral structures’, which is ‘absolutely unacceptable’.

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The Belarusian Foreign Ministry demands that the Lithuanian embassy keep one consular service officer to deal with consular affairs and three administrative and technical support staff.

A day earlier, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis presented diplomatic status to the Belarusian Democracy Representative Office, i.e. the Vilnius-based office of Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. It became another important step to delegitimise Lukashenka’s regime, the politician stressed. The work is already underway to open the Belarusian people’s representation offices in other countries, Tsikhanouskaya’s team added.

In late May, Belarus expelled the Latvian ambassador and all diplomatic personnel, except for one maintenance worker, The reason for the expulsion was the replacement of the red-green flag by the head of the Latvian Foreign Ministry, Edgars Rinkēvičs, and Riga mayor Mārtiņš Staķis.

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