EU must have 'clear political answer' to Belarus: Germany

The EU must come up with a "clear political answer" to repression under President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, Germany's foreign minister said in an interview to be released Sunday.

"We will demand that there be a clear political answer from the European Union to the interference with the (presidential) election in Minsk," minister Guido Westerwelle told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the paper said in a statement released ahead of the interview's publication.

"An unequivocal answer to the political officials and the president is necessary, saying that the repression of freedom is not acceptable," he added.

"Germany is on the side of all those who want freedom and democracy in Belarus.... Our requirement is clear: he must free the political prisoners," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert also told the newspaper.

Germany has been among the harshest critics of Belarus as the country continues to hold hundreds of opposition supporters arrested in a mass protest against the December 19 polls swept by Lukashenko.

The crackdown has been roundly decried by the West, with the EU and the United States warning they could revise their relationship with Belarus over the repression of the opposition.

Belarus on Friday ordered the closure of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's office in Minsk, in an apparent response to the transatlantic security group's stinging criticism of the presidential polls


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