FM Makey: Someday EU will stop listening to ‘fugitive govt opponents’ calling for sanctions

Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey does not think that Belarus has lost all the opportunities to further cooperate with Western partners. In a recent interview with Russian media outlet RBC, he shared his opinion about the future of relations with other countries.

It would be wrong to say that Russia is the only country that supports Belarus after the 2020 presidential election, Makey believes. According to him, Belarus managed to maintain good relations with the ‘far arc’ countries, i.e. China, Pakistan, etc. The minister claims that despite the pandemic and ‘political nuances’, there are still about ten EU member states with which the volume of trade has even increased.

At the same time, Makey cannot deny that the Belarusian authorities have faced a number of issues on the international arena.

“I think that these are temporary difficulties, we need to survive them. Indeed, today the European Union unequivocally supports the sanctions on our country suggested by those fugitive opponents of the government who are now traveling around European cities and towns. But I think sooner or later there will come an awareness that Belarus is important for the European Union. Belarus’ preserving statehood, independence and sovereignty is as important for Europe. They may not be very aware of it for the time being. But they will come to this,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes him.

Lukashenka says sanctions unfounded and must be resisted

The ‘European colleagues’ whom the Belarusian minister has phone conversations from time to time are trying not to advertise their being in contact with him, Makey said.

” Of course, it is a pity that there is no opportunity to meet in person, but even on the phone they heed to some arguments, and I see that sooner or later these official arguments will get through. They will stop listening only to the government opponents who call only for sanctions, for the transfer of power and at the same time do not offer any positive agenda,” he added.

In early October, the European Union leaders agreed to impose sanctions on more than 40 Belarusian officials over the vote rigging and post-election police violence in the country. However, the name of Alyaksandr Lukashenka was not added to the sanctions list at that moment. It included senior police and election officials, e.g. Interior Minister Yury Karayeu, Public Security Police Chief Alyaksandr Barsukou, Dzmitry Balaba, Commander of the Special Purpose Police Unit of Minsk (OMON), Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the Belarusian Central Election Commission, Valery Vakulchyk, ex-Head of the State Security Committee (KGB), and others. Yet later, the Council of the European Union added 15 members of the Belarusian authorities, including Lukashenka ршьыуда, as well as his son and national security adviser Viktar Lukashenka, to the list of individuals sanctioned in relation to the violent repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists after the 2020 presidential election in Belarus.

In late November, MEPs passed a resolution on ‘the continuous violations of human rights in Belarus, in particular the murder of Raman Bandarenka’. The text was adopted by 613 votes in favour, 41 against and 35 abstentions. In the resolution, MEPs also highlighted that actions taken so far by the EU and the member states against the Lukashenka regime were ‘insufficient’. After the Council of the European Union approved the third package of sanctions against Lukashenka regime in December, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry criticised the European partners’ stance, announced limiting the activities of some political foundations in Belarus and reviewing their humanitarian, educational, cultural programs in the country, including those offered by foreign states’ embassies.

In late January, EEAS spokesman Peter Stano warned that if ‘bad developments’ continued in Belarus, the sanction regime might be extended.

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