BRUSSELS, August 8 (Itar-Tass) — The EU Council will gather for an extraordinary session on August 10 to discuss the EU reaction to the diplomatic crisis between Minsk and Stockholm with the mutual expulsion of diplomats, an official told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
The EU Council will consider possible retaliatory steps due to the principle of European solidarity with Sweden, the official said.
According to earlier reports, Belarus took a decision to close its embassy in Sweden and proposed Sweden to do the same with its embassy in Minsk.
The diplomatic relations complicated between Minsk and Stockholm several days ago when the Belarusian Foreign Ministry refused to prolong the accreditation of Swedish Ambassador Stefan Ericsson. In addition, Belarus accused Sweden of violations of human rights. Replying to this Sweden said it could not continue its activity in Belarus and decided to expel two Belarusian diplomats from the country.
Bildt described Belarusian president’s decision to recall the embassy from the kingdom as Alexander Lukashenko’s “fear of human rights”.
“Belarus is throwing all Swedish diplomats out of the country. The president’s fear has reached the new heights,” Bildt wrote in his Twitter blog.
Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Anders Jorle told Itar-Tass that the ministry was not ready to reply if Stockholm followed Minsk’s example.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said, “Such measures do not mean the rupture of diplomatic relations.”
Sweden along with the Baltic States is one of the initiators of European sanctions and other measures towards the Belarusian leadership.
At the moment the European “blacklist” is effective for Belarus. The entry to EU countries is banned for all those who are included in the list. European business is also forbidden to sign any contracts with Belarusian companies.
The EU demands Minsk release political prisoners, cease all persecutions and observe the rights of the opposition for organising rallies and assemblies.
Since the beginning of the year this is not the first diplomatic conflict. At the end of February 2012 the Belarusian government recalled its ambassadors from Belgium and Poland in response to the package of European sanctions. The European Union recalled its ambassadors from Minsk.