EU suspends sanctions on Lukashenka and his minions (upd)

(UPD) On October 29, the EU press service announced that the organization is suspending sanctions against Belarus. Only four persons will not be able to enter the European Union.

“The EU has suspended a four-month freeze on assets and visa restrictions for 170 individuals, as well as freezing the assets of three companies of Belarus, said the statement. This decision was taken in response to the release on August 22, of all the Belarusian political prisoners and in the context of improved relations between the EU and Belarus.”

The statement notes that the release of political prisoners was “a long-awaited event in the European Union.” The lifting of sanctions is a response to a certain progress in Belarus and is aimed to encourage new developments. The EU will continue to closely monitor the state of democracy and human rights in Belarus, BelaPAN reports.

The European Union has decided to suspend sanctions against Belarus for four months, Russian news agency TASS reports with reference to a European source close to the EU Council.

“The official decision on suspending sanctions has been adopted. It will come into force on October 31,” the diplomat said.

The Council of the European Union made a decision to suspend sanctions against Belarus for the period of four months in the light of the release of several political prisoners and the peacefully-held presidential election, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir said on October, 12.

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A total of 175 individuals, including Mr. Lukashenka, are currently subject to entry bans and all of them plus 18 economic entities are subject to asset freezes within the EU.

The Foreign Affairs Council drew up the blacklist in January 2011, following a brutal police crackdown on a post-election protest in Minsk. The list was repeatedly extended and included as many as 243 Belarusian individuals and 32 business entities at one point.

Four members of Lukashenka’s security services, suspected of being behind the disappearances of political opponents, are expected to remain under sanctions.

On October 28, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey and Andrea Wiktorin, Head of EU Delegation to Belarus, discussed the ‘issues of developing the dialogue and cooperation between Belarus and the EU’, the Ministry’s press service reports.

But on the same day Makey told the Russian newspaper Kommersant that ‘Minsk’ is taking a practical view of improving relations with European partners.

“We do not have any rosy expectations that all the doors will open tomorrow and that the European Union will meet Belarus with open arms. But there is a trend towards normalizing our relations,” Makey said.

In his opinion, the EU understands that national interests are of top priority for Belarus.

“With the lapse of time, the EU realised that Belarus is not a puppet in anybody’s hands but an independent state that pursues an independent policy in the interests of the nation,” the Belarusian Foreign Minister stressed.

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