NEWS IN SHORT

The ministry summoned Belarus’s ambassador

THE SLOVAK Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Belarus’s ambassador to Slovakia, Vladimír Serpikov, on Wednesday, August 15, to communicate Slovakia’s unease over the expulsion of Swedish ambassador Stefan Eriksson from Belarus and the measures that led to the closure of the Swedish embassy in Minsk, according to TASR newswire.

THE SLOVAK Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Belarus’s ambassador to Slovakia, Vladimír Serpikov, on Wednesday, August 15, to communicate Slovakia’s unease over the expulsion of Swedish ambassador Stefan Eriksson from Belarus and the measures that led to the closure of the Swedish embassy in Minsk, according to TASR newswire.

The ministry also called upon Belarus to free and completely rehabilitate political prisoners as it has done several times in the past. During the meeting the Slovak side highlighted its interest in continuing the dialogue over Belarus’s modernisation issues as well as its desire for Belarus to maintain normal diplomatic relationships with the European Union and its member states.

“Slovakia will still [engage with] Belarus and support democratisation processes, the strengthening of civil society, human rights and the civil state, as basic values and principles of the EU, which even Minsk endorses,” stated the Ministry on its official website.

Relations between Sweden and Belarus were disrupted in July due to an event organised by a Swedish public relations company that dropped more than 800 teddy bears with pro-democracy messages from a small plane into Belarus. The angered Belarus President, Alexander Lukashenko, reacted swiftly, and all Swedish diplomats – including Ambassador Stefan Eriksson – were expelled from the country on August 3. Belarus also withdrew Sweden’s entire embassy staff over the incident.

“Slovakia opposed [Belarus’s actions] towards Sweden as well as its official reasoning and called upon Minsk to solve this situation swiftly, and admonished consequences for relationships and further political dialogue [between the] EU and Belarus,” stated the Ministry on its official website.

The meeting with Serpikov was a result of discussions held on August 10 over the issue, when the governments of the EU-member states agreed to communicate a clear message to “all of Belarus’s ambassadors around Europe in the next few days, expressing full solidarity with the Swedes on this,” EU diplomat Olof Skoog said, as quoted by TASR.

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