“Within the framework of sanctions and restrictions, we are no longer able to fulfill our obligations under this agreement,” the ministry announced the decision. Minsk has already begun the procedure for suspending the so-called Eastern Partnership, the European Union’s partnership established in 2009 with Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In addition, Belarus recalled its ambassador to the European Union for consultation. The Ministry reported the procedures to the head of the EU delegation in Minsk. He was invited to return to Brussels and inform his superiors of Belarus’s dissatisfaction with the “unacceptable pressures and sanctions”.
European Council President Charles Michel has already refused to suspend the partnership. “This will only escalate tensions and will have a clear negative impact on the people of Belarus by depriving them of the opportunities offered by our cooperation,” Michel wrote on Twitter.
The European Union imposed a raft of sanctions against Belarus as the country cracked down on protests over President Alexander Lukashenko’s controversial election victory in August 2020. Individual sanctions were imposed on more than 160 prominent members and supporters of Lukashenko’s regime, and countries reached Members also last week reached an agreement on economic sanctions. Among other things, the export of petroleum and potash is targeted.
The latest set of measures came after the interception of a Ryanair airliner flying over Belarusian territory on May 23. The “kidnapping” led to the arrest of dissident journalist Roman Protasevic and his Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sabiga. Since then, European airlines have been asked to ignore Belarusian airspace.