Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka, Medvedev call on West not to impose economic sanctions on Belarus

Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday issued a joint statement calling on the West not to impose economic sanctions on Belarus.

The sanctions will "above all affect ordinary citizens", warned the two leaders.

"Acting in the spirit of a uniform approach shared by the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation and in response to repeat statements by the USA and the European Union that they may introduce economic restrictive measures against the Republic of Belarus, the presidents of Belarus and Russia reiterate that the use of economic pressure or coercion measures in interstate relations is inadmissible", they said.

Such measures will only create "artificial trade barriers and groundless obstacles to economic cooperation between companies, as well as infringe upon the legitimate interests of the states` economic security, which may deal a blow to the efficient and mutually beneficial cooperation and the development of integration processes in the Eurasian region".

"Only a dialogue based on equality and respect can help settle differences between nations", said Messrs. Lukashenka and Medvedev.

The statement came three days ahead of a meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels at which they are expected to impose travel and asset freeze sanctions on more Belarusian individuals and entities. There are unconfirmed reports that as many as 135 more Belarusians may be added to the EU’s blacklist.