Earlier this week, the United States Embassy in Minsk issued a press release on economic sanctions. Despite Belarus authorities hopes, the change of administration in the White House has not resulted in the change of its Belarus policy.
Following the introduction of the US sanctions in 2007, most of the US Embassy staff had been expelled from Belarus. The US government should look for ways to resume full functionality of its embassy in Minsk. This would be a much more important contribution to democracy in Belarus than economic sanctions.
However, lifting economic sanctions might send a bad signal to the regime in Minsk, especially prior to presidential elections in Belarus. It looks that the regime in Belarus is going to give the US a good reason to lift the sanctions only after President Lukashenka is re-elected for the fourth term.
Here is the embassy's press release:
The United States has extended the suspension of sanctions against Polotsk Steklovolokno and Lakokraska until November 30, 2010. Other related U.S. sanctions in Belarus continue in force. Unfortunately, recent events, including raids on an NGO last week, indicate a continuing, negative pattern in the Belarusian authorities' respect for basic freedoms.
An improvement in U.S.-Belarusian relations can come only when there is real progress on respect for democracy and for basic human rights. This situation will be a factor in our consideration of whether to continue the selected suspension of sanctions in November.