Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Britain would like to see more progress on human rights and economic reforms in Belarus, new ambassador says

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Britain is ready to cooperate with Belarus more actively but would like to see more progress in the areas of human rights and economic reforms, Fionna Gibb, the new British ambassador to Belarus, said in an interview with BelaPAN.

It is with caution that Britain enters into political relations with Belarus, Ms. Gibb said. “One of the reasons is the human rights situation in the country,” she said. “It is not good, a little better than it was in the past. Small steps have been taken, but in the future we would like to see more progress in this area.”

Ms. Gibb expressed hope that the reputation of Belarus would improve as a result of the abolition of the European Union’s restrictive measures against its authorities. Ms. Gibb denied that the EU’s sanctions were the reason British companies had not increased their investment in the Belarusian economy. Cultural and economic cooperation has not been restricted in any way, she said.

Ms. Gibb would not say how Britain voted at a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on February 15 that resulted in the lifting of the sanctions. She explained that individual differences of opinion among EU members no longer matter, and that Britain “agrees with the result.”

Fionna Gibb arrived in Minsk on January 24. She succeeded Bruce James Bucknell, who had served as the UK ambassador in Belarus since July 2012 and left Minsk earlier that month.