Brussels is standing in solidarity with Poland and Lithuania which had to recall their ambassadors for consultations, the press service of the EU Delegation to Belarus said on Tuesday.
“The European Union is built on solidarity. Globally, the Union speaks one voice. The demand of the Belarusian authorities that Poland and Lithuania significantly reduce their diplomatic presence in Minsk is regrettable and counterproductive. Lithuania and Poland have been forced to recall their ambassadors for consultations. Such attempts to target individual Member States will not succeed in weakening our unity. All EU Member States call on the Belarusian authorities to end violence and repression, release all detained peaceful protesters and political prisoners, respect media freedom and civil society, and start an inclusive national dialogue with a view to ensure an sovereign, independent, democratic and prosperous future of Belarus,” the statement reads.
When asked by news agency BelaPAN whether EU envoy Dirk Schuebel was also about to leave Minsk, the delegation replied that there was no such need for the time being:
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and reacting in a proper way. Now the head of the EU Delegation continues to stay in Minsk so that communication channels remain.”
On October 2, Minsk announced recalling its ambassadors to Poland and Lithuania for consultations and encouraged the two neighbouring countries to do the same.
Moreover, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested Poland and Lithuania cut the staff of their diplomatic missions in Belarus on principles of parity with the Belarusian diplomatic missions in these countries by October, 9 due to their ‘clearly destructive actions’. The ministry expects that the number of Lithuanian diplomatic staff is to be reduced from 25 to 14 diplomats; that of Poland – from 50 to 18.
A day later, Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatol Hlaz said that the proposals on the reduction of diplomats in the embassies of Poland and Lithuania were ‘mandatory’.
Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the demands of the Belarusian authorities were ‘unfounded and regrettable’. In his opinion, the demand goes against the logic of dialogue and will only further isolate the authorities in Minsk.
On October 5, the ambassadors of Poland and Lithuania were recalled for consultations; according to Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, heads of some other diplomatic missions will be withdrawn in agreement with the European External Action Service and the EU member states. Rau did not specify which missions he meant.