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Estonia to Help Sweden Issue Visas in Belarus

16.08.2012

No 225-E

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia has offered Sweden, which has become involved in a diplomatic row with Belarus, help with issuing visas in Minsk. “We have agreed with Sweden that the Estonian Embassy in Minsk will begin to represent Sweden for the issuing of visas in Belarus as of 21 August. Belarus has demanded that all Swedish diplomats leave the country by the end of the month,” stated Foreign Minister Paet.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the diplomatic conflict between Belarus and Sweden is extremely unfortunate. “The accusations of the Belarusian authorities against Sweden are an attack on European values, and the only thing this conflict has produced is further destabilisation of the relations between the European Union and Belarus,” he said.

Paet said that the diplomatic conflict points to the outwardly visible side of the situation in Belarus, as human rights-related issues in the state remain unresolved. “The diplomatic row between Belarus and Sweden has made the situation even more complicated and makes it harder than before for the European Union to help Belarus,” Paet stated.

Paet also noted that the European Union should continue with its current policy – demanding that Belarus release and rehabilitate all political prisoners while also supporting civil society and helping Belarusians modernise their state. “It would also be cause for concern if the development co-operation projects initiated by Sweden were to be terminated. A crisis in diplomatic relations should not affect Sweden’s development co-operation projects, which are aimed directly at supporting and developing Belarusian society,” he added.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that if necessary, the EU member states are prepared to add supplementary sanctions to the sanctions packet currently in effect against Belarus. “However, sanctions should be implemented rationally and we must ensure that they are effective,” Paet emphasised.

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