Belarus hopes for EU’s lifting sanctions in near future

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Belarus hopes for abolishing the sanctions, imposed by the European Union, in the near future. This was stated today by Belarusian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dmitry Mironchik, BelTA informs.

“We hope that the leadership of the European structures and countries will finally realize the uselessness of these sanctions and restrictions against our country, and in the near future they will take decisions about their cancellation, which will open the way for the normalization of our relations with the European Union,” said Mironchik.

The Foreign Ministry Spokesman stressed that sanctions as a tool of foreign policy are counter-productive and do not allow achieving objectives. Unilateral sanctions are contrary to the international legal norms and principles, including those enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act of the OSCE.

On 17 September, Reuter, citing its diplomatic sources, reported that the European Union was likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko, after he freed a group of political prisoners last month.

According to Reuters, an arms embargo against the former Soviet republic would remain. But in an overture to the man the West calls Europe's "last dictator", diplomats are looking at suspending visa bans and asset freezes on most of around 200 people under sanctions for rights abuses, some since disputed elections in 2004.

Four members of Lukashenko's security services, suspected of being behind the disappearances of political opponents, are likely to remain under sanctions.

A formal decision could come next week at a meeting of EU diplomats. It could involve officially extending the sanctions, which expire on October 31, but suspending their application for a year, said sources familiar with the debate within the bloc.

However, some diplomats prefer to wait until after Belarus' elections on October 11, which Lukashenko, in power for 21 years, is expected to win.

Release of political prisoners

On 22 August, President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, “for human reasons” pardoned six political prisoners – Nikolay Statkevich, Ihar Alinevich, Mikalay Dziadok, Evgeny Vaskovich, Artyom Prokopenko, Yury Rubtsov.

After that, the USA welcomed Lukashenko’s decision, saying: “The release of these six political prisoners is a positive development for the people of Belarus and an important step toward normalizing relations with the United States. We reiterate our call for the Government of Belarus to restore the political rights of these six and other former political prisoners,” US Department Spokesperson John Kirby stated.

The EU also welcomed the Belarusian prisoners’ release. The releases “represent important progress in the efforts toward the improvement of relations between the EU and Belarus,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said in their joint statement on 5 September.

“It is a big step. We should evaluate it and change our policy towards Belarus,” admitted Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius. In response to the question whether the EU should lift or ease sanctions against Minsk, Linkevičius stressed: “We should negotiate. I do not want to run ahead, we should consult, and it is the basis for reviewing sanctions.”

Text by TUT.BY, Reuters

Pictures by TUT.BY