Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

EU not to recall its ambassadors from Minsk

The European Unions Political and Security Committee did not consider a mass diplomatic withdrawal from Minsk in response to the expulsion by Belarus of Swedish diplomats during its meeting on Friday, Olof Skoog, chairman of the Committee, told reporters in Brussels.

"This has not been discussed," said Mr. Skoog, a former director-general for political affairs at the Swedish foreign ministry.

European ambassadors to Belarus were recalled in February in an act of solidarity with Maira Mora, head of the European Union`s Delegation to Belarus, and Polish Ambassador Leszek Szerepka, who were told by the Belarusian authorities to leave the country after the EU expanded its sanctions against the Belarusian officials. All the ambassadors eventually returned to Belarus after about two months.

"Everyone around the table spoke in strong support of the Swedish situation," Mr. Skoog said of the Committees meeting.

"There is going to be a very clear message to all Belarusian ambassadors around Europe in the next few days," he noted.

Mr. Skoog said that sanctions on Belarus would be discussed again in October, and that the Belarusian governments "decision against the Swedish embassy will of course also have an effect on how we discuss our relations with Belarus."

"We will be reviewing sanctions, restrictive measures with Belarus later on," he said. "Everyone around the table was absolutely clear about the fact that this is not a situation merely between Sweden and Belarus."