Belarus Orders Two German Educational Institutions To Halt Work
By RFE/RL's Belarus Service June 30, 2021
Germany has deplored Belarus's decision to demand an end to all activities of two prominent German educational institutions after the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Belarus.
"We regret the decision of the Belarusian side," a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said in on June 30 about the decision affecting the Goethe-Institute, which promotes the German language and culture worldwide, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The spokesman said Belarus's action was a response to the EU's latest sanctions against the regime of authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka, which has been under international pressure since it launched a brutal crackdown on the political opposition and independent media in the wake of a disputed election in August 2020.
The opposition says that election was rigged, while the European Union, the United States, and other countries have refused to recognize the official results of the vote and do not consider Lukashenka to be the country's legitimate leader.
The German Foreign Ministry said Minsk's latest move will "contribute to further isolating Belarus internationally."
"The victims of this decision are Belarusian citizens, who are being denied further opportunities for social and cultural activity," it said, adding that Goethe-Institute and DAAD "have enabled cultural and academic bridges between Germany, Europe, and Belarus for decades."
The ministry renewed its call for Belarusian authorities "to enter a serious and inclusive national dialogue and discuss the legitimate demands of the protest movement."
Last week, the EU sanctioned key sectors of the Belarusian economy and major revenue sources for Lukashenka's regime following the forced diversion of a passenger flight to Minsk in May that allowed for the arrest of dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend.
In response, Belarus recalled its representative to the EU for consultations, announced a travel ban on unspecified EU officials, and said it was suspending its participation in the bloc's Eastern Partnership program.
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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