Belarus must return to dialogue

Strasbourg , 

"President Lukashenko's decision last Friday to expel Sweden's ambassador to Belarus over his support for democracy and human rights in the country will not help to end Belarus' isolation from the rest of Europe. Moreover, the latest decision of the Belarus authorities to terminate the activities of Sweden's diplomats in Belarus will only disadvantage the people of Belarus, particularly students and the business community, whose contacts with European colleagues will become more difficult. Such a situation unfortunately shows the continued disregard of the authorities in Belarus for basic democratic principles and human rights.

Nothing should prevent the development of co-operation throughout our continent and between all Europeans. I therefore call upon the Belarus authorities to reverse their decision and to return to dialogue. The Council of Europe, as the guardian of democracy and human rights, will continue to do all it can to promote human rights and democracy in Belarus and to raise awareness amongst the people of Belarus about European values," Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said today.