Updated at 11:25,18-04-2018

Belarus and Sweden are in talks about reopening Swedish embassy


Belarus and Sweden are holding consultations about the possibility of reopening the Swedish embassy in Minsk, but it would be premature to speculate about their likely outcome, Andrey Savinykh, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, said at Thursday's briefing.

"I can confirm that the foreign ministries of Belarus and Sweden are discussing this subject," Mr. Savinykh said. "However, time is necessary to create conditions for resolving this issue."

The Swedish embassy in Minsk and the Belarusian embassy in Stockholm were closed amid a diplomatic row that followed the expulsion of Swedish Ambassador Stefan Eriksson.

Mr. Eriksson was expelled from Belarus a few weeks after a July 4, 2012 incident in which two representatives of Sweden's ad agency Studio Total illegally flew a small plane from Lithuania to Belarus and dropped hundreds of teddy bears containing pro-human rights messages on the Belarusian territory.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka later denied a link between the expulsion of the ambassador and the toy drop.

The Belarusian foreign ministry announced on August 3 that the Belarusian authorities had denied an accreditation extension to Mr. Eriksson.

"He has worked in Belarus for about seven years, which is a long period," Mr. Savinykh said. "However, all his activities were aimed at destroying Belarusian-Swedish relations, not at strengthening them."

The Belarusian government is interested to improve relations with the European Union, but only if bilateral dialogue is based on the principles of equality and mutual understanding, Andrey Savinykh said.

"We're genuinely interested to improve relations with the EU, but not on any terms," Mr. Savinykh said. "There are constant contacts between Belarus and the EU in various areas, and this partnership will continue in the future."