Ten European countries announced yesterday that they are joining the fifteen countries of the European Union in denying entry visas to Belarusan officials. (See the Monitor, July 13) This brings the total of ostracizing countries to twenty-five. The announcement was made at the Brussels meeting of EU countries’ foreign ministers, who considered further joint measures regarding Belarus.
In Minsk, the democratic opposition’s “shadow government” leader Henadz Karpenka disclosed that the EU is considering stepping up contacts with the opposition and pressuring the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to respect its obligations under OSCE pacts. In contrast to government officials, the opposition leaders are welcome to the West. They are representing Belarus at the current session in Copenhagen of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which refused to seat the regime’s representatives even before the visa ban was announced.
Lukashenka and his Foreign Ministry appealed to the EU yesterday for a “dialogue” and negotiations, but they reaffirmed their “final” decision to take over the residences of foreign missions–the act that triggered the Western measures. While the letter to the EU tried to be conciliatory, at least in form, a public statement by the Foreign Ministry denounced the West for applying “crude pressure on sovereign Belarus.” (Belapan, Western agencies, July 13)
DEADLY ATTACK ON RUSSIAN SOLDIERS IN ABKHAZIA.