Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Belarus Denounces E.U. Tactics

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Belarus Denounces E.U. Tactics

Article excerpt

The Belarussian Foreign Ministry warned of "an escalation of tensions" after the E.U. decided to withdraw the ambassadors of all its member countries.

Belarus warned of "an escalation of tensions" with the European Union on Wednesday, denouncing a decision by the bloc to withdraw the ambassadors of all its member countries from the former Soviet republic amid an increasingly intractable diplomatic conflict.

"This is leading to a dead end," the Belarus Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Brussels and the capitals of the European Union should not forget that tactics of intimidation do not work on Belarus."

The incident is the latest in a continuing dispute between Western governments and Belarus over human rights violations.

On Tuesday, the European Union passed a new round of sanctions directed at Belarus's authoritarian government as punishment for the continued persecution of opponents of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.

After Belarus asked the E.U. and Polish ambassadors to return to their capitals for consultations, Catherine Ashton, the E.U. foreign policy chief, announced that the ambassadors from all member countries would be recalled "in an expression of solidarity and unity."

Western governments have been gradually increasing pressure on the Belarussian government in the hope that political and economic isolation would force political liberalization.

Speaking on Wednesday, Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, declined to comment on the situation in Belarus.

The dispute comes as the European Union's heads of government are planning to gather Thursday in Brussels for a two-day meeting that is likely to offer Serbia the status of candidate for membership in the 27-nation bloc.

Diplomats were trying to overcome last-minute objections from Romania, which has raised the issue of minority rights in Serbia. …

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