| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

Belarus tells EU envoy to go, withdraws migration help in sanctions row

As retribution for EU penalties, Belarus told the European Union’s representative in Minsk to return to Brussels for consultations and announced it would stop assisting the 27-nation group in combating illegal migration.

Following its arrest of a Ryanair flight last month, the EU imposed broad economic penalties on Belarus this week, aimed at its primary export industries and access to financing.

Belarusian authorities intercepted the flight, from Athens to Vilnius, on May 23 and arrested dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega who were on board, sparking international outrage.

On Monday, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in reaction to EU sanctions, announcing that it will send its own permanent representative to Brussels for negotiations.

It imposed an entrance embargo on EU officials involved in the penalties, as well as economic retaliation measures against the bloc.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said, “We hope that EU officials and those from its member states are aware of the harm and futility of using a forceful approach in their relations with Belarus.”

Belarus’ involvement in the EU’s Eastern Partnership, a policy initiative aimed at deepening the EU’s ties with neighboring former communist nations, has been suspended, according to the ministry.

Belarus has also announced that it will suspend a readmission agreement with the European Union, which lays out the processes for re-admitting those who have crossed the common border illegally.

“(This)…will have a negative impact on collaboration with the European Union in the areas of illegal migration and organized crime,” according to the statement.

  • Reuters