Belarus stated on Monday (June 28) that it would suspend its participation in the EU Eastern Partnership, an initiative aimed at promoting relations between the EU and its former Soviet neighbors. Brussels condemned the move as “another time after the hijacking occurred.” One step backwards”. Last month’s Ryanair flight in Europe.
“In the context of EU sanctions and restrictions, we are unable to fulfill our obligations under the agreement,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus said in a statement. statement.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative initiated by the European Union in 2009 and regarded by some countries as a pioneer in joining the European Union has provided an improved economy for the six former Soviet republics – Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. And political relations in exchange for reforms.
In November 2020, Belarus has decided to reduce its participation in the initiative due to the so-called “politicized approach” of EaP partners and the sanctions imposed by some EU countries.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makeyi said at the time: “We have seen people trying to politicize some infrastructure and cross-regional projects within the framework of this initiative.”
Monday’s Ministry statement stated that because Belarus borders EU member states Poland and Lithuania, the suspension of the agreement will have a “negative impact” on the fight against illegal immigration and organized crime.
It also added that the Belarusian representative to the European Union had been recalled to Minsk for consultations, and subsequently “encouraged” the head of the EU delegation to Belarus, Dirk Schuber, to return to Brussels and “conveyed Belarusian positions to his leadership” . “.
“Besides, in response [to the sanctions] Belarus will deny entry to representatives of European institutions and people from EU countries because they have facilitated the implementation of restrictions,” the statement said.
The President of the European Council Charles Michel condemned the decision and said A tweet This is “another step backward” and “will further aggravate tensions and have a clear negative impact on the people of Belarus by depriving us of the opportunities provided by our cooperation.”
“Although the Lukashenko regime decided to suspend Belarus participate Eastern Partnership, We are ready to continue working with the people of Belarus to strengthen ties, promote regional cooperation and meet common challenges,” Josep Borrell, Chief Diplomat of the European Union Say.
Many people think this is an unprecedented step. Although the Lukashenko government announced a suspension, the EU fundamentally stated that it will continue to cooperate with Belarus on the eastern partnership.
However, it is not yet clear how effective this cooperation is in practice.
In addition, Borel’s spokeswoman told EURACTIV that the European Union would “feel sorry” for Minsk’s decision to suspend participation in the Eastern Partnership Framework. This will only “further isolate Belarus and once again show that the regime ignores the Belarusian people”.
Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for EU foreign and security policy, told several media outlets: “The EU remains willing to continue to cooperate with the Belarusian people within this framework, and will continue to support the Belarusian people and civil society, and Their democratic aspirations.” A statement.
She said that with the request of the head of the EU delegation to Belarus to return to Brussels, “the Belarusian authorities have taken another step to self-isolate”, adding that “it is essential to keep communication channels open during times of crisis. This has always been ours. Original intention.”
Minsk announced this news a few days after the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada grounded Ryanair passenger flights between European capitals in Minsk in late May, and the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada imposed sanctions on Belarus. Afterwards, the authorities detained the opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend on board.
The EU also refuses to allow any aircraft operated by Belarusian Airlines to land, take off or fly over EU territory.
This is the latest in a series of penalties against President Alexander Lukashenko, who ruled Belarus for nearly three years after massive protests broke out after the controversial presidential election last year. Suppressed the opposition.
Lukashenko’s only competitor and exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Zihanusskaya stated on her Telegram channel on Monday that the move to withdraw from the Eastern Partnership “only shows that [the] The weakness and short-sightedness of the current regime”.