EU ends some sanctions against Belarus, keeps arms embargo

Brussels, Feb 16 (IANS) The European Union (EU) here on Monday said it would not extend the restrictive measures against 170 Belarusian individuals including Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, and three companies whose listings are currently suspended, ending most sanctions against Belarus.

However, according to a council conclusion on Belarus issued after an EU foreign ministers’ meeting, it said the EU foreign ministers further agreed that “the arms embargo and the restrictive measures related to the four individuals listed in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist, will be extended for a period of 12 months”, Xinhua reported.

The conclusion said the EU foreign ministers acknowledged the steps taken by Belarus over the last two years that have contributed to improving EU-Belarus relations, such as the proactive participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership.

“The council remains open to the further development of EU-Belarus relations, and to taking further steps to enhance political relations and sectoral cooperation in the appropriate context,” it said.

At the same time, the council expressed concern on the situation of human rights in Belarus and said that EU-Belarus relations should be based on common values, especially respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The latest decision was made four months after the EU announced in October 2015 to suspend for four months the asset freeze and travel ban applying to 170 individuals and the asset freeze applying to three entities in Belarus.

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