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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

EU Says Ready to Work With New Belarus FM

RIA Novosti

23:36 20/08/2012 BRUSSELS, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union said in a statement on Monday that it will work with the new Belarusian foreign minister despite the fact that he is subject to EU sanctions.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko dismissed his foreign minister, Sergei Martynov, earlier today, and appointed head of his presidential administration, Vladimir Makei, for the post.

“The EU will continue to work with the new Foreign Minister along the same lines as it did with the former Minister, Mr. Martynov,” the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said.

“Mr. Makei is currently subject to EU restrictive measures. In the context of the upcoming review of restrictive measures [in the autumn of this year], the EU will assess his situation,” Sébastien Brabant said.

The dismissal of Martynov, who had held the post since 2003, follows a recent diplomatic row between Belarus and Sweden over an incident in which a Swedish light plane dropped hundreds of teddy bears bearing pro-democracy slogans over Belarus.

Lukashenko has earlier sacked two top generals, including the head of air defense, in the wake of the July 4 stunt.

Belarus has also expelled Swedish Ambassador Stefan Eriksson and withdrawn all of its embassy staff from Stockholm.

The move has aggravated already strained relations between Minsk and the EU, which criticizes Belarus over human rights violations and insists on the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in the country.

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