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SWEDISH TEDDY BEAR DROP
EU backs Sweden, ducks Belarus diplomatic crisis

EU backs Sweden, ducks Belarus diplomatic crisis

Published: 11 Aug 2012 07:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Aug 2012 07:15 GMT+02:00

The EU shied away from a full-blown diplomatic crisis Friday at talks called to respond to the expulsion by Belarus of Swedish diplomats in a row over human rights in the former Soviet republic.

A senior official chairing the talks -- who happens to be Swedish -- said a "very clear message" would be sent to Minsk in the next few days but that the possibility of pulling out all EU ambassadors was not discussed.

The row erupted after Swedish activists illegally flew a plane into Belarus from Lithuania last month, dropping hundreds of teddy bears attached to little parachutes carrying signs calling for freedom of speech and human rights.

Friday's emergency talks involving representatives of all 27 EU members were called after Belarus -- ruled by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko -- this week expelled all Swedish diplomats and closed its Stockholm mission.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had said ambassador Stefan Eriksson, who had taken 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 immediately retaliated by saying it would not welcome a new ambassador named by Minsk, and withdrew residency permits for another two Belarus diplomats.

European ambassadors to Belarus had been previously recalled in February after Minsk responded to new EU sanctions by suggesting that envoys from Poland and the European Commission leave the largely isolated country.

A similar move had been widely mooted over the latest dispute, but EU Political and Security Committee chairman Olof Skoog said "this has not been discussed".

"There is going to be a very clear message to all Belarussian ambassadors around Europe in the next few days," he said.

Skoog said sanctions on Belarus would be discussed again in October, and that "the decision against the Swedish ambassy will of course also have an effect on how we discuss our relations with Belarus.

"We will be reviewing sanctions, restrictive measures with Belarus," he said.

"Everyone around the table was absolutely clear about the facts that this is not a situation merely between Sweden and Belarus."

Bildt said on Twitter that Friday's meeting expressed "grave concern" over the actions of Belarus and "will impact also (the upcoming) sanctions decision".

A diplomatic source said the response was incomplete, because the talks, held at the height of summer, were attended by lower level officials who would need to refer back to their capitals.

Brussels has already imposed a raft of sanctions against Belarus over its jailing of citizens for political reasons.

In January 2011, the European Union reinstated a travel ban against Lukashenko -- dubbed the last dictator in Europe -- after the government launched an opposition crackdown in the wake of disputed elections.

The ban on EU entry currently extends to almost 250 people in the government and court system. Dozens of Belarussian companies also face sanctions on doing business with Europe.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

07:12 August 11, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
How about having a democratic voting about whitch place Lukashenkas finger should be stuck with photoshopping?

A- his mouth

B his nostril

C his ear

D his eye

If the nose, make it deep.
08:39 August 11, 2012 by byke
I dont know whats more scary, some dictator government.

Or the use of The Local for political propaganda and creative writing.

Seriously, if anyone bothers to look for similar stories by more reputable news agencies online, they will see a clear difference.

Which makes you wonder, why and who is passing on these stories.
09:19 August 11, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
I urge everybody to check out this guy on RT (russia today). The interwiew is found in "programs" and the progam is called "Spotlight." I can´t remember its date. In that particular program the host has interwied also the iranian top religious leader among others. If you go and search, you should find the one with Lukashenka giving his wiews. He had just ordered a couple of guys killed for their crimes. Just look at the complete ease this guy is with himself while he´s explaining this, and ask yourself, is this guy really living on the same planet in the year 2012.
12:10 August 11, 2012 by rise
#2

I think the comments at TL only reflects the level of this, which is insane. Pure and simple insanity. And I think people of course have a hard time in taking a president like that seriously, which is why the commenting isn't at any serious level either. But then, people didn't take Hitler seriously either...

To the Finnish brother: I'd say put his finger up in his behind.
13:56 August 11, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
Please just put the finger up that mans nose.
14:45 August 11, 2012 by rise
The nose it is.
15:19 August 11, 2012 by byke
Well Europe never backed Sweden in regards to pulling out there embassy staff.

Kind of says allot really.

On a side note .... Belarus is allot further ahead in regards to the Olympics.

And given they are only 5 million ... I guess it says allot.

1 United States 41 26 27 94

2 China 37 25 20 82

3 Great Britain & N. Ireland 26 15 18 59

4 Russian Federation 17 21 28 66

5 South Korea 13 7 7 27

6 Germany 10 18 14 42

7 France 9 9 12 30

8 Hungary 8 4 4 16

9 Australia 7 15 10 32

10 Italy 7 6 8 21

11 Netherlands 6 5 8 19

12 Kazakhstan 6 0 4 10

13 Japan 5 14 17 36

14 New Zealand 5 3 5 13

15 Iran 4 5 1 10

16 Ukraine 4 2 9 15

17 North Korea 4 0 2 6

18 Belarus 3 4 4 11

19 Jamaica 3 4 3 10

20 Cuba 3 3 4 10

21 South Africa 3 1 1 5

22 Ethiopia 3 0 3 6

23 Spain 2 9 3 14

24 Romania 2 5 2 9

25 Denmark 2 4 3 9

26 Czech Republic 2 3 3 8

26 Kenya 2 3 3 8

28 Brazil 2 2 8 12

29 Poland 2 2 6 10

30 Turkey 2 2 1 5

31 Croatia 2 1 1 4

32 Switzerland 2 1 0 3

33 Canada 1 5 12 18

34 Colombia 1 3 4 8

35 Sweden 1 3 3 7

Sweden = 35 / Belarus = 18
16:10 August 11, 2012 by Migga
@ byke

Why don`t you post the medal tables from the last couple of winter olympic games as a side note?
17:20 August 11, 2012 by rise
#8

It would show Sweden from the bright side and we can have none of that! ;)
17:31 August 11, 2012 by byke
@Migga

Why would I post a medal table relating to years ago?

That would be dishonest and put myself in the same light as others by attempting to mislead others.

Makes you really wonder if supporters of Sweden or Belarus are really any different?

#2WrongDontMakeARight #SameSameButDifferent
17:49 August 11, 2012 by ryannewman
@ sleezypornorangutang

>> " He had just ordered a couple of guys killed for their crimes. Just look at the complete ease this guy is with himself while he´s explaining this, and ask yourself, is this guy really living on the same planet in the year 2012.""

NOT JUST SOME GUYS. 2 terrorists who bombed subway and killed scores of people.

I can assure you in no uncertain terms - Belarus has as much of a democracy as Sweden. Don't listen to what asylum seekers tell you - the're there purely for economic immigration.
22:43 August 11, 2012 by Zhorka
Now that EU did not support Sweden it ill be interesting to watch what excuses foreign ministry will using while in speedy retreat. Will Bild's apology to Lukashenko published on The Local?
03:33 August 12, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
ryannewman:

Maybe they should´ve taken Breivik behind the shed too?

Have you ever been to Belarus or Russia, for that matter? Democracy? BULL***T!

i suppose Russia is heading that way, sort of, maybe, but the corruption... All the slavic peolples tend to be hideously unintrested about making any improvement on their living conditions. It´s only good that someone wakes them up every now and then. I sometimes wonder if it´s in their genes allready.

Teddybears... When the Finns party got their +20% of votes in the last parliament election, maybe they should have dropped those teddys here? I would´ve kicked and screamed and turned black of anger for sure, we would have withdrawn our diplomats from Sweden of course.... Yeah right.
10:34 August 12, 2012 by towns
"Have you ever been to Belarus or Russia, for that matter? Democracy? BULL***T!" -sleezysomething (#13)

There's a difference between democracy and individual freedom too though, I'm not saying Belarus and Russia are democratic but ryannewman does have a point. Western media likes to pick on Belarus and Russia because they aren't in cozy terms with the West but they rarely ever tell you (or more importantly, make a big deal out of) about their own oppressions. Did you know for instance that the UK has one of the highest rates of mass surveillance per capita? Not just with security cameras but also with others for instance look at this article's excerpt from BusinessWeek from June 14th, 2012 by Raphael Satter:

"British authorities on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to log details about every email, phone call or text message in the U.K. -- and in a sharply-worded editorial the nation's top law enforcement official accused those worried about the surveillance program of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists."

If you just replace "British" with "Russian" everybody would be crying foul, but because the UK is a Western supposedly "democratic" country everybody turns a blind eye. Or look what's happening in Sweden for example.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7463333.stm

I'm not even going to go into what's happening in the USA. Again, not saying the West is less democratic than Belarus, just trying to highlight some double standards.
10:05 August 13, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
# 14 towns:

I´m not the one to like govenment spying no matter what government does it. There is obviously a lot of double standard in "western" policies. It seems to me, that a lot of people are going crazy because the old cozy world of black & white is gone.

The main point in this event might be, that in certain countries a teddybear with a note on it, is a big enough deal to cut ties to just about everybody. It is actually quite amazing.

On the case of west, on USA in particular, I just can´t figure it out, how bad they managed it. HUGE recourses, and today, on the verge of a total collapse. Mind boggling.
19:25 August 13, 2012 by towns
@ #15

OK, fair enough, sleezypornorangutang.
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