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EU ambassadors leaving Belarus


All Minsk-based ambassadors of the European Union's countries were expected to leave Belarus on Wednesday amid an escalating diplomatic row, BelaPAN said.

On Tuesday, the Belarusian foreign ministry "recommended" that the head of the EU delegation to Belarus and the ambassador of Poland to Belarus return to their capitals for consultations, while simultaneously recalling the country's permanent representative in Brussels and ambassador in Warsaw. The decision was announced one day after the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on new Belarusian officials over alleged human rights violations.

Following the announcement, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called a meeting of Member States Ambassadors at which a decision was made that the ambassadors of EU member states in Minsk would all be withdrawn for consultations to their capitals "in expression of solidarity and unity.”

Polish Ambassador Leszek Szerepka had left Belarus by Wednesday evening, while Maira Mora, head of the EU Delegation to Belarus, was expected to do so later in the day.

The other EU ambassadors were expected to gather at the French embassy for consultations before leaving Belarus on February 29.

Andrey Savinykh, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, described the European Union’s decision to withdraw all its ambassadors from Minsk as a nervous reaction.

"The EU's nervous reaction to Belarus’ suggestion that the ambassadors of the EU office and Poland [in Minsk] hold a round of consultations in their capitals testifies only to one thing: Brussels has chosen the path of escalation of tension," Mr. Savinykh told reporters in Minsk on Wednesday.

“This is a blind path,” Mr. Savinykh stressed. “Brussels and the capitals of the EU member states should remember that the tactics of intimidation does not work with respect to Belarus. The normalization of the relations is impossible in the context of the use of pressure on a unilateral basis. Only a decent dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and mutual acceptance could produce a constructive result. We hope that our partners will understand this.”

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