Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

German ambassador: EU ready to build relations with Minsk from scratch

By Alyaksey Alyaksandraw, BelaPAN

The European Union's move to suspend its sanctions targeting a number of Belarusian individuals and companies is a sign that it is ready to build relations with Minsk from scratch, German Ambassador Peter Dettmar said at a conference on Wednesday.

According to the diplomat, the economic problems that have affected Belarus in the last few years are linked to the government's political decisions rather than to the EU sanctions.

The suspension of the EU sanctions is a response to recent developments in Belarus and a gesture inviting the Belarusian government to start bilateral relations from scratch, he said, expressing hope that the EU and Minsk would manage to establish a full-scale dialogue.

The suspension of the sanctions is the EU's signal that it is ready to turn a blind eye to past events in Belarus and pay attention to what may happen in the future, said Mr. Dettmar.

British Ambassador Bruce Bucknell, for his part, noted that the EU had introduced the sanctions against specific individuals and not the country. The suspension of the sanctions has reduced political risks for investors and companies doing business in Belarus, but the restrictive measures were not a big obstacle to businesses anyway and are incomparable to the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia, said Mr. Bucknell. He said that he was referring to the sanctions targeting Russian banks.

On October 29, the EU suspended travel bans and asset freezes against 171 individuals, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his eldest sons Viktar and Dzmitry, Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the central election commission, Information Minister Liliya Ananich, and Valery Vakulchyk, head of the Committee for State Security (KGB).

Asset freezes were also suspended against three Belarusian companies.

The sanctions were suspended for four months.