The foreign ministers of 27 EU countries will meet in Luxembourg to consider extending sanctions on Belarus by one year over human rights abuses© Flickr/ Stuart Chalmers
BRUSSELS, October 15 (RIA Novosti)
The EU Foreign Affairs Council extended on Monday sanctions on Belarus by one year over continuing human rights abuses, lack of legitimacy and failure to respect democratic principles in the country.
“As not all political prisoners have been released and no released prisoner has been rehabilitated, and against the background of the lack of improvement as regards the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles, the Council decided to prolong the existing restrictive measures until 31 October 2013,” the EU foreign policy body said in a statement.
At the same time, the council reiterated its firm commitment to strengthening the EU's engagement with the Belarusian people and civil society.
Minsk sharply criticized the EU move saying it “practically freezes the relations between Belarus and the European Union at the level that does not suit the interests of either side.”
“We believe that this policy goes contrary to the notion of neighborly relations,” the Balarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. “To overcome the existing differences both sides must meet halfway.”
The last time sanctions were renewed, on March 23, they were targeted at those Belarusian individuals, organizations and companies "benefiting from and supporting the regime," and according to the EU, infringing human rights.
Belarus has been subject to EU sanctions since 1996, two years after Lukashenko became president, though they were temporarily suspended in 1999 and 2008.
The West accuses the Belarusian authorities of persecuting the political opposition and the denial of basic rights and freedoms, in particular freedom of expression.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko maintains that pressure on Minsk is pointless and said he hopes the European Union will try to regain its credibility as a serious partner and a good neighbor.
Belarusian-EU relations worsened in late February when the EU expanded its sanctions against Belarus over its alleged human rights violations, after which Minsk ordered the Polish and EU ambassadors to leave the country. All EU ambassadors were withdrawn in response. In late March the EU further expanded the list of Belarusian officials and companies covered by the sanctions.
Relations worsened further after Belarus expelled Swedish Ambassador Stefan Eriksson in August over an incident in which a Swedish light aircraft dropped hundreds of teddy bears bearing pro-democracy slogans over Belarus in July.
The EU also criticized the September parliamentary elections in Belarus, which according to Brussels, failed to meet international democratic standards. All 110 seats to the country's parliament, the National Council were won by pro-Lukashenko candidates.
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- mikaelforsbergEU claiming democracy?02:11, 16/10/2012The EU is not a democracy and can not run around teaching others about it. Barosso and Rumpoy are not democratically elected, they are dictators of the European commission that carry no mandate from any democratic elections. They are simply chosen by a select few from the nazi founded bankster-syndicate of the Bilderberg group.
Carl Bildt who started the meddling with Belarus is not the choice of the swedish people and he has been working for the Bilderberg-group since at least 1993, which makes his statements that he speaks for the swedish people quite hollow since he is actually simply helping the Bilderberg-group in looting Sweden.
Even that the swedish people has voted against the Euro and doesn't have anything to do with that currency, he takes up loans in the name of Sweden and then lend that money to the Bilderberg.controlled IMF at a much lower rate.
Sweden has also had to guarantee hundreds of billions of swedish krona to the Bilderberg banksters such as Carnegie and others.
Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).