EU lifts Belarus travel ban

President Lukashenko allowed to travel to Europe after political prisoners freed.

    Supporters of Lukashenko won all the seats in a recent election criticised by observers [AFP]

    The suspension will be re-examined in six months to see if there has been any movement towards democracy in the country.

    The assets freeze will remain in place, a spokeswoman for the EU presidency said.

    Political leverage

    Earlier on Monday, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU external relations commissioner, had told Serge Martynov, the Belarus foreign minister, that democratic developments there must be encouraged.

    "We should now not delay our response any longer as I think I fear that we otherwise forego a possibility to have political leverage," she told reporters after the talks.

    "In order to encourage further democratic development in Belarus, I would be in favour of a suspension of the most important part of the travel ban, because we want to show that progress is being rewarded and we want to have this more pragmatic concrete approach."

    Supporters of Lukashenko, who has been dubbed Europe's last dictator, won every seat in parliamentary polls in September which were also widely criticised by the US government and Western observers.

    However, a number of European Union nations, including Belarus's neighbours Poland and Lithuania have been pushing for some time for the sanctions on the former Soviet state to be eased.

    Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, compared the situation to Cuba, where the EU has lifted its sanctions there despite the fact that Havana is still holding political prisoners.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.