Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Officials of foreign ministries of seven EU countries to visit Minsk this week

By Tanya KOROVENKOVA, BelaPAN

Representatives of the foreign ministries of seven member countries of the European Union will visit Belarus this week.

A delegation of the foreign ministries of the Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) visit Belarus on February 9, according to the press office of the Belarusian foreign ministry. The delegation will have meetings with representatives of the foreign ministry, the Presidential Administration and the Council of Ministers.

Participants at the meeting are expected to discuss issues relating to cooperation between Belarus and the Visegrad Group, the current state and development prospects of relations between Belarus and the EU and regional security issues, the press office said.

Earlier reports had it that representatives of the foreign ministries of Austria, the United Kingdom and Germany would stay in Minsk on February 9 and 10. They are scheduled to have meetings with Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey.

The European Union is to decide by February 29 whether to re-impose its restrictive measures against Belarusian authorities, prolong their suspension or abolish them altogether.

On October 29, 2015, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council voted to suspend the application of the restrictions against 171 Belarusian individuals and 10 economic entities for four months, «in response to the release of all Belarusian political prisoners on August 22 and in the context of improving EU-Belarus relations.»

Simultaneously, the Council prolonged its restrictive measures, due to expire on October 31, until February 29, 2016.

Entry bans and asset freezes remained in place for the «four persons involved in unresolved disappearances in Belarus.»

The Council drew up their blacklist of Belarusian individuals and economic entities in January 2011, following a brutal police crackdown on a post-election protest in Minsk. The list was repeatedly extended and included as many as 243 Belarusian individuals and 32 business entities at one point.