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Belarus stops accepting consular documents in Sweden

August 10, 2012, 20:40 UTC+3
Earlier Belarusian authorities refused to extend the accreditation of Swedish Ambassador to Minsk Stefan Eriksson
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MINSK, August 10 (Itar-Tass) — Due to the closure of its embassy in Sweden, Belarus stops the acceptance of consular documents, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry reported on Friday.

Any documents whose consideration requires a long period are not accepted starting from August 10. These include naturalization documents, permanent residence outside of the republic, consular registration and passports. The acceptance of visa applications ends on August 20, and return certificates won’t be issued starting from August 27.

The Belarusian embassy in Latvia will provide consular support to Belarusian citizens in Sweden starting from September 1, the ministry said.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said on August 8 that the Belarusian embassy in Sweden would be closed. Sweden was offered to recall its embassy from Belarus before August 30, 2012.

Early on July 4 morning, the day after Belarus celebrated the main national holiday, Independence Day, a light plane carrying two Swedish citizens trespassed the Belarusian airspace. It freely reached the small town of Ivenets and then Minsk and airdropped several hundreds of teddy bears carrying democratic slogans.

Following the incident, Belarusian authorities refused to extend the accreditation of Swedish Ambassador to Minsk Stefan Eriksson.

“Stefan Eriksson worked in Belarus for about seven years. That is a long term. All through that period his activity was aimed to destroy rather than strengthen Belarusian-Swedish relations,” the Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

“The decision lies solely in the field of bilateral relations,” he said. “Belarus is ready to take effort for keeping bilateral relationship constructive. At the same time, if Sweden seeks an exacerbation, we will have to react adequately.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt strongly criticized the decision as a violation of interstate norms.

It is not a secret that Sweden is deeply involved in the fight for democracy and human rights in Belarus, and Ambassador Eriksson has been worthily representing that policy of Sweden, he noted.

In reply to the Belarusian accusations of the Swedish ambassador of illegal actions, Sweden said that the Belarusian ambassador could not continue his mission in Stockholm and decided to expel two Belarusian diplomats.

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