• Sweden edition
 
Belarus expels Swedish ambassador
Photo: AP

Belarus expels Swedish ambassador

Published: 03 Aug 2012 15:10 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Aug 2012 17:04 GMT+02:00

"Lukashenko regime has expelled Swedish Ambassador to Belarus for being too supportive of human rights. Outrageous. Shows nature of regime," Bildt said via Twitter on Friday.

Carl Bildt has furthermore added that Sweden has responded by blocking the arrival of the new Belarus ambassador and by expelling two diplomats.

Writing on his blog, Bildt described the decision to expel the Swedish ambassador Stefan Eriksson as a "serious breach of protocol".

"It is no secret that our relations with the Minsk regime are strained. And the situation has become even more tense since the seriously fraudulent presidential election in December 2010 and the political prisoners that we have since noted."

Carl Bildt admitted that Sweden, along with other EU countries, maintains a "relatively extensive" programme of support for civil society groups in Belarus.

"Not least to organisations which work with human rights in Belarus," he wrote.

Swedish relations with Belarus have been in stark focus recently after Stockholm-based PR company Studio Total dropped 879 teddy bears bearing various messages calling for freedom of expression from a light aircraft in early July.

President Lukashenko was at first loath to accept that the flight was real and that the country's air-space had been breached.

But on Thursday President Alexander Lukashenko sacked two of the nation's top defence officials after calling a meeting last week to scold his staff for allowing what he described as a "provocation".

Studio Total on Friday expressed the belief that the expulsion of the ambassador was a direct result of their teddy bear flight.

"That seems logical," Studio Total founder Tomas Mazetti told the Expressen daily.

However Martin Uggla, an expert on Belarus at the Swedish human rights NGO Östguppen, argued that the decision has more profound reasons.

“It’s a bigger issue than that. Sweden has criticized Belarus for abusing human rights for a long time. Now they want to punish Sweden," Uggla told The Local.

“Now they want to cool off the escalating criticism that they have received."

Uggla observed that Sweden's ambassador has held a high profile concerning the issue of human rights in Belarus.

"Stefan Eriksson has had a significant profile in Belarus and been openly criticizing them for abusing human rights for a long time," adding that he expects Eriksson to continue this work from at home in Sweden.

Carl Bildt confirmed that Eriksson will remain as Swedish ambassador to Belarus but will be be based in Stockholm for the time being.

"Now with a clearer focus on democracy and freedom of speech issues in Belarus," he said.

Bildt revealed that he had been asked by the Belarusian foreign minister to promise to reassign ambassador Eriksson future when they met at an EU meeting on July 23rd.

"He explained that his president was getting increasingly irritated and referred both to the fact that ambassador Eriksson had attended a meeting organized by the opposition, and that we at the embassy had given support to volunteer groups."

"I of course dismissed any suggestion of such an agreement," Bildt proclaimed.

Carl Bildt furthermore defended Sweden's right to maintain contact with civil society groups, pointing out that he presumed the Belarusian embassy in Stockholm also maintained similar contacts in Sweden.

Bildt stated that the decision will be discussed by the EU and that Belarus will suffer various consequences after Friday's events.

Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with a iron fist since 1994, basing much of his hard man reputation on the defence of the nation's borders, including the capabilities of the joint air defence system it shares with Russia.

Valery Karbalevich, an independent Minsk-based political analyst, explained the move to purge the generals as an attempt to save face in front of Moscow.

"It looks like Moscow is cranking up pressure and demanding an answer as to why the much-acclaimed air defence system is riddled with holes," Karbalevich told the Associate Press news agency on Thursday.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

With additional reporting by Salomon Rogberg.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:48 August 3, 2012 by rise
Ooo tough guy this the president Alexander Clown.
19:56 August 3, 2012 by Hisingen
Upset the likes of Lukashenko at your peril. About as stable as Assad, and just as 'nice'.
20:12 August 3, 2012 by rise
Upset? I think it's the world's duty being an annoyance for dictatorships. Be it North Korea, Belarus or whichever. It may be dangerous, of course, but the world shouldn't let them last forever anyway.
23:35 August 3, 2012 by Texrusso
He is a MAD MAN and a foolish clown :D Shameless....
23:37 August 3, 2012 by occassional
Expel the ambassador is the least they could have done after that silly airspace incursion stunt, whosever bright idea that was. The pilot is lucky to have come out of it alive.

Funny though how Sweden chooses which dictators to 'upset'.
08:29 August 4, 2012 by RobinHood
On behalf of our dear leader, the President I want to make it clear, teddy bears, Swedish ambassadors, and anyone whose name is Ted, Teddy or Edward, is unwelcome in the peoples' paradise that is Belarus. Anyone who even mentions any of those names will be arrested and re-educated by Igor, the dear leader's personal secret policeman. The country formerly known as Sweden has been removed from all Belarusian maps and no longer exists. Igor will enforce that rule as well.

Bought to you by the official spokesman for the dear leader and president of Belarus: remember, we are watching you and we know where you all live.
12:15 August 4, 2012 by rise
#6

Now there you hit the bull's-eye! :D
12:54 August 5, 2012 by Camlon
Isn't it kind of hypocritical to be so mad about getting an ambassador kicked out, when Sweden does the excact same thing in response.

I really don't get the outrage. So what if Sweden got kicked out by a dictatorship. Belarus doesn't matter.
15:51 August 5, 2012 by rise
Personally I don't believe anyone in Sweden really is mad about it or even thinks of it much. But still sometimes you may need/want to, as it is put in Swedish media, "sätta hårt mot hårt" (an English translation would sound something like "set hard towards hard").
13:48 August 8, 2012 by robban70226
so....Stefan Eriksson be a member of the Elephant grave now?
Today's headlines
Sweden keeps eye on Norway bomb threat
Norwegian police car at Oslo Gardemoen Airport. Photo: TT

Sweden keeps eye on Norway bomb threat

The Swedish Security Service (Säpo) have said that an "imminent terror threat" to neighbouring Norway doesn't yet affect Sweden although developments are being closely followed. READ  

Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
The Blomdahl family in Berlin. Photo: Private

Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin

Edvin Blomdahl is seven-years-old. He also cycled from Sweden to Berlin, a journey of 370 kilometres, in four days. READ  

Opinion
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Demonstrations at Sergels Torg in Stockholm. Photo: Kent Vilhelmsson

'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'

As the rhetoric rises at demonstrations in Swedish cities, Stockholm-based Israeli writer David Stavrou calls on Swedes to think before they shout and to cast a critical eye over much that is written and said about the conflict in Gaza. READ  

Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden
The vintage tractor ready to travel from UK to north Norway. Photo: Peter Matheson

Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden

A British man is set next month to drive from Scotland, across Sweden, and to the northern tip of Norway on a vintage tractor to raise money for a cancer charity. READ  

Sweden agency hikes heat warning to 'extreme'
This canine friend is not amused. Photo: TT

Sweden agency hikes heat warning to 'extreme'

Swedish weather agency SMHI has raised its weather warning to class 2, giving notice of "extremely high temperatures" in parts of the country. READ  

Songs for a hot Swedish summer
Ted Gärdestad. Photo: TT

Songs for a hot Swedish summer

Contributor Paul Connolly has put together a list of Swedish songs to capture balmy summer days, which in his neck of the northern woods are pushing the mercury above 35c for the first time in a century. READ  

Swedes suffer as buses boil in the summer sun
Photo: TT

Swedes suffer as buses boil in the summer sun

Stockholm's local traffic authority has received almost 300 complaints since June 1st with many regarding stifling heat on the city's buses, which lack air con. READ  

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv

UPDATE: About 270 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm are still stranded in Tel Aviv, and airlines have stated that flights will likely be grounded on Thursday as well. READ  

The Local List
Top ten: Swedish taboos
The butter knife is for butter. Photo: Mats Sandelin/TT

Top ten: Swedish taboos

From standing in line to taking your hols in the off-season, Sweden is a society with customs and faux pas, the Danes might say taboos. Here is a list of ten to watch out for. READ  

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 

22 July

PROTECTING GIRLS FROM ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
National
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
National
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
National
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
National
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
Gallery
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Politics
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
National
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

702
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se