Rosenthal summons Belarusian ambassador

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has summoned the Belarusian ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey the Netherlands’ objections to the expulsion of all Swedish diplomats from Belarus. The Minister’s move is part of a coordinated action by the EU member states.

The Minister also took this opportunity to protest against the poor conditions in which political prisoners are held and again to call for their immediate release and rehabilitation. In addition the Netherlands expressed serious concern about the imprisonment of Anton Suryapin, a photojournalist who posted pictures online of teddy bears with pro-democracy messages that had been dropped over Belarus in a PR stunt on 4 July.

The Netherlands and the other EU member states are reconsidering their political relations with Belarus. The EU is also in the process of evaluating its sanctions in the run-up to 31 October (when the present sanctions expire), taking account of the current diplomatic crisis and the troubling domestic political situation, including the ongoing oppression of civil society groups.