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US 'with Sweden' in Belarus diplomacy spat

Published: 09 Aug 2012 08:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Aug 2012 08:09 GMT+02:00

The United States said Wednesday it "stands with Sweden" in its efforts to promote human rights in Belarus, amid a spat that led Minsk to expel all Swedish diplomats and close its Stockholm mission.

The US State Department said it was "deeply concerned" about the recent events, with spokesman Patrick Ventrell saying such actions "only serve to deepen Belarus' self-isolation."

"The United States stands with Sweden and our European partners in supporting the aspirations of the people of Belarus for a modern, democratic and prosperous future," Ventrell said in a statement.

"We again call on Belarus to immediately release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, and to put an end to the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt last week said ambassador Stefan Eriksson, who took up the post in Minsk in 2008, was being expelled because of his pro-rights stance and meetings he had with the Belarus opposition.

Stockholm quickly retaliated, saying it would not welcome a new ambassador named by Minsk to replace the envoy who left the post several weeks ago, and withdrew residency permits for two Belarus diplomats.

On Wednesday, Minsk said in a statement it was "forced to take a decision to recall its diplomatic staff from Sweden and return its employees to Belarus," stressing however it was not severing diplomatic ties with Stockholm.

It gave Stockholm until August 30th to remove all of its diplomats from the ex-Soviet state the United States once dubbed Europe's last dictatorship.

The tit-for-tat came after Swedish PR firm Studio Total announced they had illegally flown a plane into Belarus in early July, dropping hundreds of teddy bears attached to parachutes and carrying signs calling for freedom of speech and human rights.

Belarus is under a raft of sanctions by the European Union over the plight of political prisoners in the country.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:33 August 9, 2012 by rise
"The tit-for-tat came after Swedish PR firm Studio Total announced they had illegally flown a plane into Belarus in early July, dropping hundreds of teddy bears attached to parachutes and carrying signs calling for freedom of speech and human rights."

Beware of and don't underestimate the force of the cute little teddy bears! ;D

http://www.google.com/search?q=teddies&hl=sv&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=cIIjUNm6LcPl4QSM0IGQDw&ved=0CFsQsAQ&biw=1663&bih=1269
12:35 August 9, 2012 by RobinHood
On behalf of our dear leader, the President, I wish to remind you that there are no teddy bears, there is no country called Sweden, there is no EU and there are no opposition politicians in Belarus. We have no need for any of these things, and they do not exist, even if we did.

The president will (through me) issue further proclamations of things that do not exist, as and when he decides they do not exist. Remember, denying that things do not exist before the Dear Leader has proclaimed they do not exist is a crime inside and outside Belarus.

A list of things that do not exist is available at www.belarussecretpolice.be, and is updated hourly. An item's existance status can change at anytime. So please be aware that an item (such as a teddy bear) that did not exist in the morning, might actually exist in the afternoon, but not exist again by evening. If in doubt about an item's status (exist, or not exist?), please ask a Belarusian policeman. But not a policeman who was on duty on the night of the non-existant teddy bear raid, because those policemen do not exist, and that status will not be changed.
18:31 August 9, 2012 by OUIJA
The lead says: "The United States is deeply concerned about recent events in Belarus, including the decision of the Belarusian government to expel the Swedish ambassador and force Sweden to recall its entire diplomatic staff in Minsk. These actions, like the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to Belarus in 2008, only serve to deepen Belarus' self-isolation.

I have a question: Is Sweden allowed to help the opposition in Belarus through its embassy? This, for me, means that Sweden is a lacay of the USA. Now, would Sweden allow a foreign country to help the Swedish Democrats from Jimmy Åkeson, to try to finish with the Swedish dictatorship of Fredrik Reinfeldt? I guess not. A basic problem here is that what it is good for Sweden, is bad for other countries. One more example ot the double Swedish moral. Sweden hs the same fixation problem with Russia, that being one of the many reasons Russians do not like Carl Bildt at all. But who cares, as long as the "I love you MIckey Mouse" song is sung
20:49 August 9, 2012 by jostein
As we say in sweden, whats in a bag has been in a sack. Trust this Bildt creature at your own peril
21:55 August 9, 2012 by Iraniboy
The State Department continued: However God forbids if Sweden even think about trying to spread democracy in our beloved allies like Saudi Arabia, Israel or Bahrain because we do not meddle in other countries affairs!!!
22:13 August 9, 2012 by ryannewman
HHAHAHA. US - cradle of democracy....

When they stop killing hundredth of thousands of civilians around the world - they might try to open they mouth-thole.
07:51 August 10, 2012 by robban70226
Sweden interfered into other country's internal affairs, Good lesson by throwing away the embassador, An international arrest warrant should be issued to the Studio Total people and Cromwell should be tried in court, He pocket the money in a foolish propaganda, he should pay for it, No bullshit excuses for their behaviour. The end do not justify the ways, Cowards!!! Face the truth!!!
08:14 August 10, 2012 by Lemon1987
...to all supporters of twisted USA foreign "prodemocratic" policy. FECK YOU, YOU FECKING FECKS. Typical brainwashing cause of human rights.
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