EU Extends Asset Freeze On Belarus Regime, Eases Travel Ban

(RTTNews) - European Union has extended an assets freeze for another year against Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his government but refrained from enforcing a travel ban on the leaders.

A meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels said it was impossible to lift the sanctions altogether "due to the absence of tangible progress" by Lukashenko's government in addressing its concerns in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

A statement by the ministers said the "(EU) Council deeply regrets the crackdown on peaceful political actions and the continued denial of registration of many political parties."

However, the 27-nation bloc agreed to seek improved ties with Belarus on condition that the former Soviet republic improve democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The EU condition requires Minsk to enforce a moratorium on the death penalty.

The meeting endorsed the European Commission to enter into closer discussions with the Belarussian side to work on the potential for closer cooperation.

In March, thousands of anti-government activists held nationwide demonstrations in protest against the authoritarian rule of Lukashenko, dubbed by the United States as "Europe's last dictator."


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